Late Eighteenth-Century Feminisms: Mary Wollstonecraft and her Contemporaries. Need I remind you that the NYPL, and specifically the Pforzheimer Collection, provided much of the content for the exhibition at the Bodleian, Shelley's Ghost: Reshaping the Image of a Literary Family.
Tomorrow: a second look at the second Vindication.Kathleen Lubey, a researcher at the Library’s Wertheim Study and Assistant Professor of English at St. John’s University, will contextualize Mary Wollstonecraft’s radical calls for gender equality within the intellectual traditions of English women writers in the decades preceding her feminist treatise A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1791).[sic]Wollstonecraft’s most visible legacies—her daughter Mary Shelley, and modern feminism itself—make her recognizable in our time as a harbinger of democratic and egalitarian ideals. But in her own time, Wollstonecraft’s calls for total equality for women, as well as her sympathies with French republicanism, alienated her from her female contemporaries and immediate predecessors, who envisioned more subdued programs for women’s improvement and social action. Frances Burney, Hester Chapone, Anna Barbauld, and the women intellectuals known as the Bluestockings, while recognized as part of a proto-feminist lineage, recoil from the polemical tactics undertaken by Wollstonecraft, offering instead a varied spectrum of strategies for women’s social advancement, such as marriage, publication, private learning, and self-improvement.Professor Lubey is author of articles on sexuality, pornography, and eighteenth-century culture in Eighteenth-Century Studies, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, and differences. Her book Excitable Imaginations: Eroticism and Reading in Britain, 1660-1760 is forthcoming from Bucknell University Press. “Late Eighteenth-Century Feminisms” is part of a new book project she is writing in the Wertheim Study, examining the relationship between private manuscript and published writing in eighteenth-century literary culture.