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Redefining Didactic Traditions: Mary Wollstonecraft and Feminist Discourses of Appropriation, 1749-1847

Collins Hanley, Kirstin M (2007) Redefining Didactic Traditions: Mary Wollstonecraft and Feminist Discourses of Appropriation, 1749-1847. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This project examines the relationship between mid 18th/early 19th century feminism and didacticism through the work of one of the late 18th century's most celebrated feminist writers, Mary Wollstonecraft. It is my contention that Wollstonecraft's work is representative of the ways in which women writers of this period manipulated didactic conventions and strategies to further feminist goals. Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, often recognized as feminism's "manifesto," is generally regarded as the text that defines and delimits the scope of Wollstonecraft's feminist project. Yet Wollstonecraft's didactic texts, although generally dismissed in feminist critical contexts, further define and elaborate on her feminist project by promoting resistance to 18th century discourses concerning women's 'proper sphere.' Reading Wollstonecraft's work in relation to 18th century didactic traditions, I argue that Wollstonecraft appropriates and revises the work of 18th century writers on the subject of women's education such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Dr. John Gregory, epitomizing a feminist didactic approach later (re)deployed by Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. In the first chapter, I (re)read Wollstonecraft's Vindication through the lens of Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of authoritative discourse, generating a theoretical framework for understanding Wollstonecraft's feminist discourse as appropriation. I suggest that Vindication enacts the same discursive strategies as Wollstonecraft's didactic texts in its appropriation of established 18th century masculine discourses. In Chapters II and III, I situate Wollstonecraft's didactic texts, The Female Reader, Original Stories, and Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, in relation to didactic texts and traditions that shaped them, arguing that Wollstonecraft appropriates these texts and traditions in order to establish a feminist pedagogical approach. Chapters IV and V examine the continuities between Wollstonecraft's didactic approach and the work of Austen and Bronte. They, like Wollstonecraft, borrow from and appropriate earlier didactic texts and traditions in order to construct their feminist projects. The very different ways in which Austen and Bronte (re)work these traditions, I suggest, reveals a shift in feminist thought from the late 18th through the mid 19th centuries.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Collins Hanley, Kirstin Mkmc75@pitt.eduKMC75
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCarr, Stephen L.scarr@pitt.eduSCARR
Committee MemberGodley, Amandaagodley@pitt.eduAGODLEY
Committee MemberBialostosky, Don H.dhb2@pitt.eduDHB2
Committee MemberCarr, Jean Fergusonjcarr@pitt.eduJCARR
Date: 19 September 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 24 May 2007
Approval Date: 19 September 2007
Submission Date: 27 June 2007
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Jane Eyre; Original Stories; Pride and Prejudice; Sense and Sensiblity; The Female Reader; Thoughts on the Education of Daughters
Other ID:, etd-06272007-205702
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:48
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:45


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