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Title: Gender and the development of didactic writing, 1775-1816
Author: Rubio, Jennie J.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1998
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This thesis examines the development of didactic literary authority in women's writing between the late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth century. This authority developed as a result of changing social pressures, in which women were increasingly associated with the domestic sphere, and had to align their writing practice with this domestic respectability. Women writers used didacticism, with its roots in the moral philosophy of the mid-Eighteenth century, to claim that their writing was primarily interested in promoting the sensibility associated with the domestic sphere. Didacticism allowed writers to make distinctions between themselves and another kind of writing which, they claimed, produced the "wrong" sensibility, usually constructed as the self-indulgent, morally lax emotionalism associated with the sentimental movement. By contrast, what didactic writers claimed to be doing was performing a useful and beneficial task, writing which would produce positive, rational and domestic feelings in the reader. Didactic authority often took the Highlands as its object. Constructed as being less "civilised" than the rest of Britain, the Highlands allowed the writer to claim to be providing a "correction" to the damage done to our "original" sensibility by describing the "simple" and uncorrupted lifestyle of the Highlanders. Writing about the Highlands then appeared to be a source of didactic authority which many women were keen to exploit. But at the same time, this kind of writing was beset with difficulties, particularly in its claim to be emerging either out of the writer's "simple" response to the Highlands or by being a purely descriptive, non-fictional discourse. One influential work examined in this thesis, for example, is Anne Grant's Essays on the Superstitions of the Highlanders (1811), which, in spite of the authoritative title, achieves little in the way of ethnographic objectivity, and is beset by a series of problems associated with Grant's negative associations with women's writing.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available