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McDowell, Paula - Associate Professor of English

Page history last edited by Seth Rudy 11 years, 2 months ago

V41.0972.001 - Eighteenth-Century British Women's Writing - Spring 2008

Paula Mcdowell, Associate Professor of English


Eighteenth-Century Conduct Books 

This wiki is entirely the work of 4 NYU undergraduate English majors: Madelaine Burkert, Jaime DeRiso, Kevin Mahoney, and Arielle Anhalt.  Madelaine Burkert served as Editor-in-Chief for the site.   It is part of a project completed for Professor Paula McDowell's NYU Undergraduate English seminar, "Eighteenth-Century British Women's Writing."  


The site constitutes an online version of a display case from the symposium held at the Fales Library on April 10th and 11th, 2008, "Writing Women 1700-1800: Literary History at the Crossroads."


"We chose to study conduct books written for eighteenth-century young women, and occasionally young men, to guide them during their development from childhood to adulthood. These books both reflected and created the socially acceptable roles of women.  They also represent a growing awareness during this time of a need to educate women, and despite their often restrictive treatment of themes like religion, courtship, and marriage, they can be seen as proto-feminist texts.  Many of the conduct books in this collection are part of a tradition of women instructing each other on how to survive in a man's world; others, like Advice to His Son... shed light on the gender inequalities that made such instruction necessary.  In many ways, early conduct authors planted the seeds of the more radical demand for women's rights that was to come, and although Wollstonecraft decries male conduct authors in her Vindication, she owes a debt of gratitude to female authors like Pennington who first recognized that the everyday lives of contemporary women were worth writing about."


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