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Dr. Laura L. Runge
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ENL 6236 18th Century Women Authors in the Digital Archive

Class 12: Millenium Hall

    Sarah Scott Millenium Hall; (Available on Internet Archive

    DUE: Post #11

    Analyze Scott's novel

    Review digital and print representations of MH

    Analyze critical article on Scott

Notes and Discussion Questions

    According to Gary Kelly, Millenium Hall (1762) "was the fullest literary expression of the first wave of 'bluestocking' feminism" (introduction, Broadview, second edition, 11). Based on the novel, what are the central concerns of this version of feminism?

    Kelly categorizes this as a utopian novel in three specific traditions: humanist, pastoral and Christian. Examine the text in this light. What does the novel contribute to or borrow from these respective utopian traditions?

    Susan Staves argues that Sarah Scott probably new Astell's Serious Proposal to the Ladies. In what ways does this novel offer a literary illustration of Astell's principles for a female community?

    On another register, the novel clearly develops in dialogue with Milton's Paradise Lost. How does MH comment on Milton's great Christian epic?

    Staves comments that Scott included a portrait of her sister in the figure of Lady Brumpton. How does this characterization underscore concerns of class, gender, education and morality? Keep this in mind when we read Frances Burney's play, The Witlings.

    Evaluate the frame narrative for the story. If this is a reform narrative, what or who is being reformed?

    In concert with the question above, evaluate the frontispiece for the novel. How does this affect the reader's approach to the story? What happens when, as in some 18th C editions, the frontispiece is left off?

    Notice how visual scrutiny is closely monitored in the novel. What examples of this can you find and what is the purpose or effect?

    The stories of the female inhabitants of Millenium Hall generally concern the oppression of a courtly genteel and sexist society. How do the stories relate to one another? What themes emerge? What differences among the stories surprised you?

    What is the source of money that allows for the foundation of the home denominated Millenium Hall? In what sense is the design practical?

    How does Millenium Hall fare as a novel? Would you include this in the literature of sensibility? Why or why not?

    What character(s) emerges as compelling for you as a reader? Why?

    Gary Kelly's note on the text for his edition of Millenium Hall indicates the gendered and class foundations of style we ought to consider: "In sentence construction and punctuation Scott's practice of long sentences with phrases and clauses loosely joined by commas, semincolons, colons, and dashes is consistent with informal writing of her day. The text of Millenium Hall will seem over-punctuated and inconsistently puncutated by modern standards. Yet her practice also gives her discourse a rhythm of conversational narrative speech that could be seen as the appropriate form of the language for the dialogue enacted in the novel and in the bluestocking circles themselves. At the risk of occasionally and momentarily confusing the modern reader, I have decided, unlike other modern editors, not to modernize Scott's punctuation, so that the rhythm of her bluestocking discourse may be retained."

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