Lewd and Notorious: Female Transgression in the Eighteenth Century
University of Michigan Press, Dec 21, 2009 - Social Science - 344 pages
Accounts of women's transgressive behavior in eighteenth-century literature and social documents have much to teach us about constructions of femininity during the period often identified as having formed our society's gender norms. Lewd and Notorious explores the eighteenth century's shadows, inhabited by marginal women of many kinds and degrees of contrariness. The reader meets Laetitia Pilkington, whose sexual indiscretions caused her to fall from social and literary grace to become an articulate memoirist of personal scandal, and Elizabeth Brownrigg, who tortured and starved her young servants, propelling herself to an infamy comparable to Susan Smith's or Myra Hindley's. More awful women wait between these covers to teach us about society's reception (and construction) of their debauchery and dangerousness.
The authors draw upon a rich range of contemporary texts to illuminate the lives of these women. Astute analysis of literary, legal, evangelical, epistolary, and political documents provides an understanding of 1700s womanhood. From lusty old maids to murderous mistresses, the characters who exemplify this period's vision of women on the edge are essential acquaintances for anyone wishing to understand the development and ramifications of conceptions of femininity.
Katharine Kittredge is Associate Professor of English, Ithaca College.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
accounts argues authority behavior Berillia British Canning's caricatures Carter century character child claims clitoris contemporary crime criminal biographers critics cross-dressing culture desire discourse domestic Early Modern eighteenth eighteenth-century Eliza Haywood Elizabeth Brownrigg Emanuella Emilius Emma Emma Hamilton England English Fanny Hill female sexuality feminine feminist fiction gender Greville grotesque body grotesque female body Hamilton Hart Hart's Haywood Hermaphrodites heroines heterosexual homoerotic homoeroticism homosocial husband identity illegitimacy John Jonathan Swift Lady Hamilton Lady Susan lesbian literary London male marriage married Martha Mary masculine masquerade maternal Memoirs mistress Moll and Roxana Moll Flanders Moll's mother murder Natural Daughter Nelson novel old maids Oxford penitent penitential narratives Pilkington political puns queer readers reading relationship representations role Romantic Friendship sapphic sapphism satire scholars seduced servants Sir William social society status story suggests Swift texts tion tradition transgressive tribade University Press woman women writers writing York