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Women Writers, Lecture 1

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McMaster University
Grace Kehler

Women Writer’s 2K03 September 18 Mary Wollstonecraft: - Published during the French Revolution – highlights misuses of power, striking imagery of revolutionary imagery to denaturalize conventional social images. - Trying to implant in the reader the need for change, the want to be involved in change, the transformation in the self and in the social. - Tremendous voice in arguing a pedagogy involving multi-facets of the individual, and strengthen both the self and nation; impoverishment of the mind and body and any aspect of the social political, it would have an impact on the nation. Anti-essentialist construction of the self, and convinced that society does not need to remain the way it was. French Revolution: - Overthrowing the monarchy – symbolically birthright and insistence that rule should come from democracy, rule and of by the people. Getting rid of the protected positions given to the elite few. - Separation of the church and state - An opening up of subject matter (literature and media) an ability to work against sanctioned knowledge. Thomas Payne vs. Mary Wollstonecraft - Payne argues for the rights of men, while Wollstonecraft argues against the social curtailing of women’s social position, women’s emancipation and freedom. Legitimacy: - Pedagogy and Education: o Presents pedagogy as the creator of disease as the main advocate of separation of the spheres, femininity had become attached to the ideas of nurturing, childbearing entertainment, family and masculinity became tied to ideas of work, public sphere and family provider. Women, as representative of the deeply private, becoming the harbour for the goodness of the British nation, a picture of selfless devotion becoming the image of behaviours of the opposite genders working in tandem, together.  Wollstonecraft argues that the division of men and women is the root of a nation becoming innervated and intellectually destitute and unprotected. Separation as a corrupting and noxious element of society.  Spans class, nation and gender. - Legitimate and Illegitimate Power: o The language of the Revolution: Men and the tyranny of women. o Comparison of women to animals, pets, toys, brutes, slaves and children.  Slavery: effective and provocative – inhuman, owned, powerless property, just as women in marriage, with no right to represent herself, could not keep her own earnings, could not bring forth any lawsuit against her husband, nor could she own property herself. Attached to the structure and language of slavery: servitude, obedience, inherent inferiority, instrumentalization; Wollstonecraft criticises the idea that “it’s not here” which requires introspection and admittance of guilt.  Beast/Brute: dehumanization of woman, reduction of humanity to an animal, implying the need for training. o Comparison of the middle class wife to the mistress:  The Harem:. Moves into the comparison of women of Britain to the women
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