Fictions of Female Education in the Nineteenth Century

By Jaime Osterman Alves

© 2009 – Routledge

188 pages | 9 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415848640
pub: 2013-12-11
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Hardback: 9780415996761
pub: 2009-03-11
US Dollars$130.00
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About the Book

Seeking to understand how literary texts both shaped and reflected the century's debates over adolescent female education, this book examines fictional works and historical documents featuring descriptions of girls' formal educational experiences between the 1810s and the 1890s. Alves argues that the emergence of schoolgirl culture in nineteenth-century America presented significant challenges to subsequent constructions of normative femininity. The trope of the adolescent schoolgirl was a carrier of shifting cultural anxieties about how formal education would disrupt the customary maid-wife-mother cycle and turn young females off to prevailing gender roles. By tracing the figure of the schoolgirl at crossroads between educational and other institutions - in texts written by and about girls from a variety of racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds - this book transcends the limitations of "separate spheres" inquiry and enriches our understanding of how girls negotiated complex gender roles in the nineteenth century.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Miss Schooled: Representing Adolescent Female Education in Nineteenth-Century America. 1. “Oh, I am homesick at the idea of a school and a master”: Negotiating Domestic Education in Elizabeth Stoddard’s The Morgesons 2. To Teach and to Cure: Medical Interventions into Female Education and Oliver Wendell Holmes’s Elsie Venner: A Romance of Destiny 3. Reading, Writing, and Re-presenting: The Newspaper and the Schoolgirl in the Wreath of Cherokee Rosebuds and S. Alice Callahan’s Wynema: A Child of the Forest 4. “How shall we ever get out of slavery?”: Frances E. W. Harper’s Trial and Triumph and Black Female Education in the Post-Reconstruction Era. Epilogue: Telling Tales Out of School

About the Author

Jaime Osterman Alves is Assistant Professor of Literature in the Master of Arts in Teaching Program at Bard College.

About the Series

Studies in American Popular History and Culture

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HIS000000
HISTORY / General
HIS036040
HISTORY / United States / 19th Century
HIS037060
HISTORY / Modern / 19th Century
LIT004020
LITERARY CRITICISM / American / General