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By Anthony Pollock

Challenging the longstanding interpretation of the early English public sphere as well mannered, inclusive, and egalitarian this book re-interprets key texts by means of consultant male authors from the period―Addison, Steele, Shaftesbury, and Richardson―as reactionary responses to the widely-consumed and unusually subversive paintings of girls writers comparable to Mary Astell, Delarivier Manley, and Eliza Haywood, whose political and journalistic texts have up before obtained little scholarly attention. via reading a variety of fabrics produced among the 1690s to the 1750s, Pollock exposes a literary market characterised much less by cool rational discourse and genial consensus than via vehement contestation and struggles for cultural authority, relatively in debates in regards to the right quantity of women’s participation in English public life. Utilizing innovative methods of analysis and research the book  reveals that even at its second of inception, there has been an immanent critique of the early liberal public sphere being articulated by way of girls writers who have been keenly conscious of the hierarchies and strategies of exclusion that contradicted their culture’s oft-repeated appeals to the foundations of equality and universality.

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Extra info for Gender and the Fictions of the Public Sphere, 1690-1755 (Routledge Studies in Eighteenth-Century Literature)

Sample text

Moreover, the intense ephemerality of the Spy’s external world suits and perhaps determines his experience of his own body’s sensory responses to that world: Ward’s narratives chart in fast-paced succession the Spy’s sensations of shock, pleasure, repulsion, laughter, exhaustion, thirst, hunger, and anxiety. Paradoxically, it is exactly this deeply subjective, embodied quality that gives Ward’s work the aura of objective realism that has led so many commentators to describe it either as an “intimate picture .

Ward’s narrator describes himself initially as an academic type who, his “delight in . . ”50 Overcome by a sense of the outmoded uselessness of this kind of academic endeavor, the narrator decides to “br[eak] loose from the scholar’s gaol, [his] study” with a rationale and panache that are worth quoting at length: I resolv’d to be no longer Aristotle’s sumpter-horse, or like a tinker’s ass, carry a budget for my ancestors, stuff’d full of their frenzical notions, and the musty conceits of a parcel of dreaming prophets, fabulous poets, and old doating philosophers, but shifted them off one by one, with a fig for St.

SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT AND FEMINIST COUNTERPUBLICNESS: THE HABERMASIAN ASTELL? Mary Astell stands out as in some ways the staunchest defender of women’s participation in early enlightenment print culture and the most acute critic of England’s actually existing public sphere. 27 In the brilliant preface she adds to the third edition of her Refl ections Upon Marriage (orig. 1700, 3rd ed. 1706), Astell claims that her publicly circulated treatise on the dangers faced by women entering the marriage market will aim “to correct abuses .

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