Bluestockings Displayed: Portraiture, Performance and by Elizabeth Eger

By Elizabeth Eger

The dialog events of the bluestockings, held to discuss modern rules in eighteenth-century Britain, have been very important in encouraging girl inventive success and selling hyperlinks among studying and advantage within the public mind's eye, inventing a brand new type of casual sociability that mixed the lifetime of the senses with that of the brain. This number of essays, by means of top students within the fields of literature, heritage and artwork historical past, presents an interdisciplinary therapy of bluestocking tradition in eighteenth-century Britain. it's the first educational quantity to be aware of the wealthy visible and fabric tradition that surrounded and supported the bluestocking undertaking, from formal snap shots and sculptures to commercially reproduced prints. by means of the early 20th century, the time period 'bluestocking' got here to suggest a lifeless and dowdy highbrow girl, however the unique bluestockings inhabited a global within which brilliance was once worth each point and girls have been inspired to polish or even dazzle.

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Why did British public opinion turn so roundly against the bluestockings in the early nineteenth century, so much so that the very term was transformed from one of grudging approval to one of universal derision? The traditional answer, put forth by Sylvia Harcstarck Myers in 1990 in her fine book, The Bluestocking Circle, and widely accepted by feminist literary critics and historians, is this. By writing for publication, by openly displaying their learning, the bluestockings defied the dominant domestic ideology, the conduct-book prescription that all women should be quietly confined to the private sphere, as dutiful and submissive daughters, wives and mothers.

1). This engraving portrayed Montagu and her friends gathering around a pedestal on which Apollo crowns Britannia, thus suggesting that the literary culture of England in 1777 was dependent on the contributions of these learned ladies. 1 Engraved by Page, after Samuel. The Nine Living Muses of Great Britain, 109 Â140 mm, 1777. 2). From left to right, Samuel here gives us Angelica Kauffmann, the painter, seated, with Elizabeth Carter, a poet, and Anna Aikin Barbauld, a poet, literary critic and political essayist, standing behind her.

21 More herself became the iconic embodiment of this argument. Her sculptural image as the ‘mother of the nation’ was widely disseminated in Britain in the early 1800s, both in the form of cheap plaster figurines and of expensive Minton porcelain. 8), Britannia Correcting an Unruly Boy, in which Britannia is portrayed as the British nanny, roundly spanking a diminutive Napoleon, as the French fleet retreats. More’s position, that well-educated women are best suited to rule the nation, was subtly endorsed by other women writers, most notably, perhaps, by Jane Austen in Persuasion.

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