Revolutions in Taste, 1773–1818: Women Writers and the Aesthetics of Romanticism

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Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., Apr 28, 2013 - Literary Criticism - 204 pages
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How and to what extent did women writers shape and inform the aesthetics of
Romanticism? Were undervalued genres such as the romance, gothic fiction, the tale, and the sentimental and philosophical novel part of a revolution leading to newer, more democratic models of taste? Fiona Price takes up these important questions in her wide-ranging study of women's prose writing during an extended Romantic period.

While she offers a re-evaluation of major women writers such as Mary
Wollstonecraft, Maria Edgeworth, Ann Radcliffe and Charlotte Smith, Price also places emphasis on less well-known figures, including Joanna Baillie, Anna Letitia Barbauld, Elizabeth Hamilton and Priscilla Wakefield. The revolution in taste occasioned by their writing, she argues, was not only aesthetic but, following in the wake of British debates on the French Revolution, politically charged. Her book departs from previous studies of aesthetics that emphasize the differences between male and female writers or focus on higher status literary forms such as the treatise. In demonstrating that women writers' discussion of taste can be understood as an intervention at the most fundamental level of political involvement, Price advances our understanding of Romantic aesthetics.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Real Solemn History Rethinking Tradition
13
Fashions Brightest Arts Decoy Fashion and Originality
45
Disinterest Economics and the Tasteful Spectator
75
Selfcontrol Romantic Psychologies of Taste
103
Rustic Tastes The Romantic Tale
135
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About the author (2013)

Fiona Price is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Chichester. She has published on eighteenth-century aesthetics, Romantic women's writing, and Scottish Common Sense Philosophy. She is also editor of Jane Porter's novel The Scottish Chiefs (1810; 2007).

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