By Elizabeth Eger
Bluestockings participated within the first wide-scale construction of a countrywide tradition. Exploring the strain among person and collective versions of authorship, Eger attracts on visible and revealed fabrics and unpublished manuscripts to argue for the iconic relevance of rational argument within the background of womens' writing.
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Extra resources for Bluestockings: Women of Reason from Enlightenment to Romanticism
The work of intellectual historians Virginia Sapiro, Sylvana Tomaselli and Barbara Taylor has similarly ensured that Wollstonecraft’s cultural context is more profoundly understood. While this book does not treat Wollstonecraft’s work directly, it is hoped that by addressing her immediate predecessors’ lives and works, it will contribute to a fuller understanding of her connection of public and personal virtue, civic and domestic worlds. 42 Myers drew attention to the crucial role of family and friendship networks in establishing the bluestockings’ identity as an intellectual circle, arguing for the interdependent relationship between learning, virtue and the life of the mind for eighteenth-century women.
While her argument is seductive, it perhaps places too much emphasis on print culture at the expense of other forms of expression. This book engages directly with women’s publication in a number of formal literary genres – most notably Shakespeare criticism and poetry – but it will also argue for the importance of other more transitory and ephemeral forms of communication to bluestocking identity, such as letters and conversation, both of which were crucial conduits of critical opinion. 68 Chapter 2, ‘The Bluestocking Salon: Patronage, Correspondence and Conversation’, explores the means by which the bluestockings formed intellectual and social bonds in order to establish their own sense of community.
It requires very specific intellectual skills and highly developed systems of communication. None is more critical than writing, which enables us to separate ourselves from our ideas, to take possession of them, and to exchange them with others across space and time. 67 Hesse interprets women’s publication as a form of resistence and empowerment that overcame prejudices and obstacles against other forms of expression. While her argument is seductive, it perhaps places too much emphasis on print culture at the expense of other forms of expression.