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Title:Feminizing the voice of literary authority: Sarah J. Hale's editorship of the "Ladies' Magazine" and "Godey's Lady's Book"
Author(s):Okker, Patricia Ann
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Baym, Nina
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):American Studies
Women's Studies
Literature, American
Abstract:This study focuses on Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the Ladies' Magazine (1828-1836) and then Godey's Lady's Book (1837-1877). Contesting the perception of these popular women's magazines as anti-literary and as anti-feminist, I identify the importance of these magazines in the development of American literature and their relationship with American feminism. I argue that Hale redefined literary culture so as to encourage women's participation in that world and to establish her own authority. She did so by manipulating the domestic ideology pervasive in nineteenth-century America, specifically the notion of separate spheres for women and men and the belief in women's "natural" moral superiority. Rather than equate such domestic and separatist ideology with women's confinement in the home, Hale used it to increase women's intellectual and literary opportunities.
This study explores the relationship between this domestic, separatist ideology and literary culture. Within the public feminine discourse of popular women's magazines, Hale promoted new ideas of the author, the reader, and the text. Resisting the image of the author as a scholarly gentleman, Hale contributed to the professionalization of authorship and worked to elevate the status of the "woman writer." She also battled negative representations of women's reading as dangerous or frivolous by presenting it both as an inherent part of the domestic space and as a means of women's intellectual achievement. Finally, Hale offered a femininized view of literary history and the development of genre, especially poetry and fiction. Again, she revised the aesthetics of these genres so as to defend women's engagement with literature as readers, writers, and editors.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Okker, Patricia Ann
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9026286
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9026286

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