Women Travel Writers and the Language of Aesthetics, 1716-18

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Juni 2004



British readers of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries eagerly consumed books of travels in an age of imperial expansion that was also the formative period of modern aesthetics. Beauty, sublimity, sensuous surfaces, and scenic views became conventions of travel writing as Britons applied familiar terms to unfamiliar places around the globe. The social logic of aesthetics, argues Elizabeth Bohls, constructed women, the laboring classes, and non-Europeans as foils against which to define the "man of taste" as an educated, property-owning gentleman. Women writers from Mary Wortley Montagu to Mary Shelley resisted this exclusion from gentlemanly privilege, and their writings re-examine and question aesthetic conventions such as the concept of disinterested contemplation, subtly but insistently exposing its vested interests. Bohls's study expands our awareness of women's intellectual presence in Romantic literature, and suggests Romanticism's sources might be at the peripheries of empire rather than at its center.


1. Aesthetics and Orientalism in Mary Wortley Montagu's letters; 2. Janet Schaw and the aesthetics of colonialism; 3. Landscape aesthetics and the paradox of the female picturesque; 4. Helen Maria Williams' revolutionary landscapes; 5. Mary Wollstonecraft's anti-aesthetics; 6. Dorothy Wordsworth and the cultural politics of scenic tourism; 7. The picturesque and the female sublime in Ann Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho; 8. Aesthetics, gender, and empire in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.


'An important and serious contribution to the field ... an interesting intervention in a growing field and Bohls's consideration of women writers in particular is timely. Importantly, the argument of the book reverses the practice, prevalent in post-structuralist criticism, of isolating the aesthetic debates of the eighteenth century away from their immediate cultural context. Bohls's work, by contrast, explores the interaction between aesthetic ambitions and the practices of eighteenth century social life. In this respect Bohl's book deserves much credit.' English
EAN: 9780521607100
ISBN: 0521607108
Untertitel: Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: Juni 2004
Format: kartoniert
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