Chapter

The Contrast II: Bruising the Serpent’s Head, the Little Sister, and Christian Professions

Emma Major

in Madam Britannia

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199699377
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738029 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199699377.003.0009
The Contrast II: Bruising the Serpent’s Head, the Little Sister, and Christian Professions

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This chapter looks at the period 1790–1811. It argues that the French Revolution and subsequent wars with France created a sense of national emergency that caused writers such as Hannah More, Sarah Trimmer, Jane West, Henrietta Maria Bowdler, and Anna Laetitia Barbauld to try to defend their nation and religion by venturing into traditionally male areas of theology and politics. These years marked a turn in popular opinion against women’s involvement in politics and print culture, so the women I discuss were trying to fulfil what they understood to be their ‘Christian profession’ at a time when the extent of female activity was being curtailed. (This is evident in the very proper Britannias who appear during these years contrasted with a Medusa-haired, rampaging French Liberty.) The writers I discuss negotiated the constraints of propriety by being published anonymously, pseudonymously, or posthumously.

Keywords: dissent; sermons; women priests; serpents; Hannah More; Anna Laetitia Barbauld; Henrietta Maria Bowdler; Sarah Trimmer; Napoleon; Britannia

Chapter.  18567 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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