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Title:Textual Politics: Women Authors Rewrite the Enlightenment, 1790--1805
Author(s):Hilger, Stephanie Mathilde
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Blake, Nancy
Department / Program:Comparative Literature
Discipline:Comparative Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Literature, Romance
Abstract:This study discusses four British, French, and German women authors from the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries who wrote novels and plays that responded quite explicitly to texts written earlier in the eighteenth century by major male writers. The choice of texts by Karoline von Gunderrode (Mahomed), Ellis Cornelia Knight (Dinarbas), Julie de Krudener (Valerie), and Helen Maria Williams (Julia) was triggered by the fact that, despite what appeared to be an interesting pattern of literary response, little critical interest had been devoted to these writings. I argue that the reason for this neglect lies in the fact that, at first sight, these women's texts appear more conservative than those of their more explicitly revolutionary female contemporaries. Another cause for this disinterest can be ascribed to a lingering reluctance to reshape the canon of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature in all three national literary traditions. The latter reason seems to be especially pertinent for understanding the exclusion of texts by women authors who dared retell Voltaire's Mahomet and Goethe's translation thereof, Johnson's Rasselas, Goethe's Werther, and Rousseau's Julie. This study uses close textual analysis and critical theory, especially psychoanalysis, feminism, and postcolonialism, to argue that, rather than being regressive, the perceived conservatism of these women writers was a strategic move that allowed them to introduce subversive ideas beneath the protective veil of relatively safe and non-controversial views. While the project of rewriting takes on different forms, sometimes it appears as an explicit contradiction of and sometimes as a careful modeling on their male predecessors' texts, the common ground for these four women was their careful negotiation of the opportunity to speak in a public forum and the risk that this publicity posed for a woman author during that time.
Issue Date:2003
Type:Text
Language:English
Description:290 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/87285
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3101863
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2003


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