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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 August 2010
Little attention has been given to women in the intellectual landscape of late seventeenth-century and eighteenth-century Britain and France. And the existing scholarship has focused overwhelmingly on feminist writings and on writings and efforts associated with the French Revolution, in Britain as well as France. This second part of Women Writers and the Early Modern British Political Tradition expands the reach to women writers and intellectuals beyond the radical and feminist debates of the late eighteenth century. Mary Astell and Lady Damaris Mascham are integrated into the philosophical discourse among Cambridge Platonists and Lockean epistemologists of the late seventeenth century, as active participants in the debate. The thought of Mary Wollstonecraft is placed in a broader and comparative context, linking her writings especially to those of her somewhat earlier contemporary, the historian Catharine Macaulay; and her response to Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France is tied not alone to her views of women's place within the revolutionary debate, but to her radical theories of the nature of the state generally. Wollstonecraft's political views are also treated by integrating them into her portrayal of the family in eighteenth-century society. And finally, Emilie du Châtelet, the eighteenth-century French mathematician who produced the definitive translation of Newton's Principia so crucial for the evolution of Enlightenment thought, is studied to examine how genius remained a gendered concept among Enlightenment thinkers.