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Online publication date:
October 2023
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This volume brings together leading critical voices from a range of disciplines to examine the complex and profoundly significant ways in which female literary artists interrogated and advanced educational philosophy and practice. The volume recreates the plurality and non-linearity of the conversations and forms of literary expression that took place in and through this body of educational writing. Literature and education in the long eighteenth-century share certain perceived aims: the transmission of knowledge, strengthening of understanding, acculturation, and sometimes empowerment. They also share structural forms: lessons; conversations; letters; dramatizations; confessions; narratives; imitations; sometimes fantasies. In the long eighteenth-century, authors of literary texts were often authors of educational treatises who saw their activities in both spheres as interrelated. As such, the parties of teacher and pupil, author and reader frequently overlap. This book provides a historically sensitive understanding of the fraught relations between these parties, drawing attention to the period's debates about authority and freedom as they relate to matters of gender, race, religion, age, and class. This project provides a nuanced understanding of women's literary contributions to the period's strands of educational thought, enabling us to better understand the many and complicated ways in which authors and readers of the period envisaged that literary texts might fulfil, fail, or refuse to fulfil, educational functions.

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