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Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination | Cambridge Studies in Romanticism
Taylor, Barbara
Cambridge University Press / Softcover / 2003-03-01 / 0521004179
Feminist Theory / Literary Criticism
price: $46.95 (may be subject to change)
352 pages
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In the two centuries since Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), she has become western feminism's leading icon, a stature that has obscured her actual historic significance. Examining in detail Wollstonecraft's writings, Barbara Taylor provides an alternative reading of her as a writer steeped in the utopianism of Britain's radical Enlightenment. Her feminist principles are shown to have arisen within a revolutionary program for universal equality and moral perfection that reached its zenith during the political upheavals of the 1790s but had its roots in the radical-Protestant Enlightenment. Locating Wollstonecraft within her literary and political milieus, and tracing the relationship between her feminist radicalism and her troubled personal history, the book draws a compelling portrait of this fascinating and profoundly influential thinker. Barbara Taylor, a reader in History in the Department of Cultural Studies at the University of East London, is an intellectual and cultural historian specializing in the history of feminism from 1750-1850. Her first book, Eve and the New Jerusalem: Socialism and Feminism in the Nineteenth Century (Pantheon, 1983) is a study of the feminist dimension of British Utopian Socialism. It was published to widespread acclaim and she has been awarded many research grants, including fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust, the Nuffield Foundation, the British Academy and the Guggenheim Foundation.

• The fullest account to date of Wollstonecraft as an eighteenth-century thinker, setting her ideas in historic context
• A lucid and sympathetic retelling of Wollstonecraft's controversial life-story
• Written by an established intellectual and cultural historian

Reviews and Endorsements:

"This study should be a model for intellectual biography; it is the most exciting and provocative piece of scholarship this reader has ever reviewed." The Historian, Melinda Zook, Purdue University

"Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination should appeal to a wide variety of readers...the feminist paradoxes Taylor highlights in this volume should continue to provoke discussion." History

"Barbara Taylor does such a winning job of revitalising Mary Wollstonecraft that readers of this book may well find themselves wanting to turn or return to Wollstonecraft's own writings." London Review of Books

"What Taylor gives us is not only a highly insightful reading of Wollstonecraft, but also an exemplary piece of feminist scholarship." H-WOMEN

insightful reading of Wollstonecraft, but also an exemplary piece of feminist scholarship." H-WOMEN

"Taylor's sensitive study is the first scholarly treatment of Wollstonecraft to do justice to the feminist historical context. By giving careful attention to the role that religion played in Wollstonecraft's work, Taylor opens a new chapter in feminist studies. By taking Wollstonecraft's own paradoxes seriously, Taylor provides a model for combining psychoanalytic theory and historical rigor. This book is required reading for all feminists and sets the standard for future scholarship on this important writer." Mary Poovey, New York University

"The best study to date of one of the eighteenth-century's most inspired, most difficult, and most radical figures...written with breadth and passion and vision, it typifies the best qualities of its subject and it will surely be the authoritative bok on Wollstonecraft for years to come." Albion


Introduction: Mary Wollstonecraft and the paradoxes of feminism
Part I. Imagining Women:
1. The female philosopher
2. The chimera of womanhood
3. For the love of God
Part II. Feminism and Revolution:
4. Wollstonecraft and British radicalism
5. Perfecting civilization
6. Gallic philosophesses
7. Women vs. the polity
8. The female citizen
9. Jemima and the beginnings of modern feminism
Epilogue: the fantasy of Mary Wollstonecraft

About the Author:

Barbara Taylor is Reader in History in the Department of Cultural Studies at the University of East London. She is a leading intellectual and cultural historian, specialising in the history of feminism, and the author of Eve and the New Jerusalem: Socialism and Feminism in the Nineteenth Century and numerous articles on Mary Wollstonecraft.

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