Coda: reading labour and writing women's literary history

Jennie Batchelor

in Women's Work

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780719082573
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701829 | DOI:
Coda: reading labour and writing women's literary history

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  • Literary Studies (19th Century)


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Despite three decades of groundbreaking feminist scholarship, the project of writing women's literary history is still, to an extent, overshadowed by the critical narratives about professionalism, gender and the literary that were being constructed and contested in these writers' own lifetimes, and which subsequent generations of scholars have resisted rethinking. This book sought to break down this resistance by exploring women writers' negotiation of a series of defining moments in literary history through their responses to the manual/intellectual labour axis around which this history unfolded, and to which that history is still – often prejudicially for women writers – subject. By making work visible in eighteenth-century writings by women, the intention has not been simply to uncover something that has always been there, but to offer some account for eighteenth-century studies' unwillingness fully to acknowledge labour's crucial, if vexed, presence in imaginative and nonimaginative prose of the period and, further, to suggest the costs of colluding with assumptions about gender, work and women's writing which would play such a vital part in the ‘Great Forgetting’ of female authors in the nineteenth century.

Keywords: women's literary history; women authors; women writers; labour

Chapter.  1383 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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