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Title: The reception of the life and work of Mary Wollstonecraft in the early American republic
Author: Smith, Abigail M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2682 4120
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis measures the influence of the life and work of Mary Wollstonecraft in the culture of the early American Republic.  It is an examination into American periodical literature, fiction, and theatre of the period in comparison to that of Britain.  A transatlantic perspective takes into account that Britain was not only the first place of publication for Wollstonecraft’s works but also was the prime source of early American culture.  The focus of this analysis is the impact of two main books, Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, published in 1792, and William Godwin’s biography of her, Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman, published after her death in 1798.  After the publication of the latter the former was reassessed in the light of the details of Wollstonecraft’s scandalous life. To her critics the enactment of the philosophies which she put forth in her treatise about the increased independence of women caused her to lead an immoral life, and they feared the effects that reading the Rights of Woman would have on other women.  Godwin’s role in Wollstonecraft’s life and his own philosophies about women and marriage in An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice compounded his image with her sin the public imagination. Together they became notorious and their conservative detractors exploited their images and philosophy for numerous ends. I will discuss these and the effects they bore on other writers of various political and moral leanings to show how Wollstonecraft’s life and work helped to mould the evolving role of women in nineteenth century America. I will look in detail at the work of Charles Brockden Brown, William Dunlap, Sally S. B. K. Wood, Helena Wells, Martha Meredith Reed, Herman Mann, Deborah Sampson Gannett, and Benjamin Silliman.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Authors, American