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Title: The rise of the female critic, 1673-1754
Author: Gronstedt, Rebecka
ISNI:       0000 0004 2741 8503
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis discusses the 'rise' of the female critic in the long eighteenth century through the specific examples of theatre criticism authored by Aphra Behn, Eliza Haywood and Charlotte Lennox. In doing so it demonstrates that such women writers worked to establish modern critical practices and to stake a claim as to the importance of the female voice in the articulation of cultural value. To uncover early female-authored literary criticism it is necessary to consider formats that today are seen as unconventional, such as paratextual material to plays. As the eighteenth century progressed these early formats of literary criticism were increasingly abandoned in favour of more modern practices, such as the critical essay. This thesis suggests that this development is facilitated by a popularisation of criticism: a movement from classical authority to a focus on the individual's rational judgment, which in turn promotes new kinds of criticism such as psychological or 'affective' criticism. This emergent strain of criticism was significantly debated by women critics, a point that is hitherto largely disregarded in accounts of women's involvement in eighteenth-century literary culture. Equally overlooked is the role of the female critic in the literary market, that is, how she as a literary professional has to negotiate her aesthetic judgment with popular taste. Although this problem crosses gender boundaries the female critic was more vulnerable to attack than her male peers, since she was using a mode of writing which has traditionally been seen as a male practice, characterised by formal education and public participation. Nevertheless the eighteenth century witnessed the first monograph of dramatic criticism authored by a British woman, as well as the first scholarly work to consider Shakespeare's use of his sources, also by a female critic. This thesis is thus an act of cultural unveiling whereby the female critic is finally allowed to take centre stage
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available