Reading Women: Literacy, Authorship, and Culture in the Atlantic World, 1500-1800
Heidi Hackel, Catherine Kelly
University of Pennsylvania Press, Incorporated, 2009 - Literary Criticism - 280 pages
In 1500, as many as 99 out of 100 English women may have been illiterate, and girls of all social backgrounds were the objects of purposeful efforts to restrict their access to full literacy. Three centuries later, more than half of all English and Anglo-American women could read, and the female reader was emerging as a cultural ideal and a market force. While scholars have written extensively about women's reading in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and about women's writing in the early modern period, they have not attended sufficiently to the critical transformation that took place as female readers and their reading assumed significant cultural and economic power.