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Title:The "intellectual entertainments" of Charlotte Lennox: Literary strategies of an eighteenth century professional woman writer
Author(s):Coates, Jocelyn Martha
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Dussinger, John A.
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, English
Abstract:Charlotte Lennox (c. 1729-1804) was prominent in the eighteenth century but now is known only for her important connections with Samuel Johnson, who thought highly of her, and for her satiric novel The Female Quixote. Lennox is significant because she was one of the foremost women writers of the mid- to late eighteenth century and had expertise in each of the dominant literary genres--fiction, poetry, drama, literary criticism, and the periodical. Each chapter of this dissertation focuses on a different genre and shows how Lennox adapted the literary conventions she chose so that she could better express her preoccupation with improving women's lives. Chapter I situates this study within Anglo-American historical and textual feminist criticism and includes a discussion of Lennox's play Philander, adapted from Guarini's Il Pastor Fido, to illustrate Lennox's relationship to male literary traditions. The next two chapters focus on her more explicit works that establish her preoccupations: Poems on Several Occasions, in which she transforms the pastoral so that she can examine and define her own ambitions as a woman writer, and The Lady's Museum, a monthly periodical of high quality that promises "a Course of Female Education." The next two chapters are studies of her most famous and misunderstood works, which become clearer in the context of Lennox's entire career: Shakespear Illustrated, in which she challenges the canonization of Shakespeare and inserts a woman's voice into the critical process, and The Female Quixote, an atypical novel for Lennox that takes her concern for class and education in a new direction. Linking these generically diverse works is her insistence that women take charge of their own lives by educating themselves. Repeatedly, she is scathing in her criticism of vain, insubstantial women who refuse to improve themselves and, at the same time, displays her respect for women's abilities and her belief that "intellectual entertainments" (Harriot Stuart 1.238) can not only give pleasure, but also improve the material conditions of women's lives. The final chapter of this study looks at Euphemia, written long after her other works, to see how she evaluated these beliefs near the century's end.
Issue Date:1992
Rights Information:Copyright 1992 Coates, Jocelyn Martha
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9215798
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9215798

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