The diligent dilettante : women writers in Germany, 1770-1820
The thesis sets out to explain the presence of women writers in the book market of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In order to do so, it examines the position of women writers in Germany - in the context both of their discursive and of their social reality. The thesis investigates the ideological and material background for women's writing, by exploring the areas of gender ideology, contemporary concepts of authorship, women's reading, and the literary market. The final chapter examines women's freedom of expression in different public circumstances. The thesis argues that women's position in the business of culture in general and literature in particular is not as unpromising as has often been claimed. By investigating less well-known texts on gender roles, such as eighteenth-century journal articles, it is possible to show that the rhetoric of prohibitions, for example regarding women's reading and writing, was by no means uniform, but fragmentary and frequently contradictory. Women's own responses to the conditions under which they were working are highlighted throughout the thesis, and examined on the basis of a range of texts, including unpublished correspondence. The examination of non-literary factors, such as the expansion of the literary market and the emergence of a newly diverse reading public, enables the identification of causes other than gender as determining women's position as writers during this period. In the course of this study, numerous neglected texts are considered, which broaden our understanding of this period of literature. The creative and successful use which women writers made of the opportunities they were afforded is emphasised throughout, thereby making an important contribution to the study of women writers.