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Title: Elite women and the change of manners in mid-eighteenth century Scotland
Author: Glover, Katharine
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis examines the social and cultural roles and experiences of the women of the mid-eighteenth century Scottish elite. It focuses on the women of lowland gentry families. Theirs was a society preoccupied with ideas of improvement, in which a perceived ‘change of manners’, incorporating new and diverse social roles for elite women, played a defining role as an indicator of progress. Yet until now, the lived experience of these women has remained relatively under-studied. Through archival research into both women’s and men’s correspondence, supplemented by accounts, bills, memoirs and other family papers, this thesis examines aspects of elite women’s involvement in the society in which they lived. Commencing with girls’ education and upbringing, it then considers women’s reading and their relationship with various print genres. It investigates the impact of polite culture and the forms of sociability in which elite women’s participation was expected, and moves on to relate this to women’s involvement in other aspects of public life; in particular, in the machinations of politics. It ends with an analysis of women’s travels, both domestic and overseas. In relating recent developments in eighteenth-century British women’s and gender history to the specific social context of the early Scottish Enlightenment, this thesis demonstrates that even the most well-known archives can provide insights into important fields of historical enquiry when re-examined in a new light. It argues for the importance of epistolary evidence and of studying individual experience. It adds weight to the arguments for a wide-ranging interpretation of Enlightenment culture which takes account of a female readership and audience, and contributes to scholarship which explores the complexities of regional and national variations on polite culture within Britain. It adds a Scottish dimension to the growing body of work which argues for the diversity of elite and specifically genteel women’s social roles in eighteenth-century Britain.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available