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Gender and Language in British Literary Criticism,
1660-1790

By Laura L. Runge

    This book posits a history of literary criticism explaining the language and tropes that criticism borrows from concurrent discourses of gender. Each chapter examines conventions in a certain field of critical language -- Dryden's prose, the early novel, criticism by women and the developing aesthetic -- to theorize how gendered epistemology shapes critical "truths."

    The argument is structured around several critical commonplaces that inform the study of literature today, including an understanding of the heroic and the sublime as masculine modes, the view of the novel as a feminine genre and the perception that there are no early female critics. The book opens up to inquiry the matrix of critical and gendered values through which eighteenth-century literature is produced, thereby reinterpreting the critical vocabulary for analyzing those works, with particular attention to values or forms that have been denominated feminine.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Preface

    Chapter One: Manly Words on Mount Parnassus

    • Grounding the Arguments
    • Identifying the Parameters
    • Positing the Histories
    • Resignifying the Discourse


    Chapter Two: Dryden's Gendered Balance and the Augustan Ideal

    • The Feminine And The Masculine
    • Comparative Categories And Feminine Men
    • Gallantry, Modesty and the Female Subject


    Chapter Three: Paternity and Regulation In The Feminine Novel

    • Conventions Of Femininity
    • Gallant Control Of The Feminine Genre
    • Classical Strategies

    Chapter Four: Aristotle's Sisters: Behn, Lennox, Fielding And Reeve

    • The Woman Damns The Poet: Aphra Behn
    • What's So Irritating About Charlotte Lennox?
    • The Displaced Voice Of Sarah Fielding
    • The Moral Artillery of Clara Reeve
    • Where Are They Now?


    Chapter Five: Returning to the Beautiful

    • Mid-Century Transitions in Value
    • Beauty As The Discourse Of Control : Edmund Burke
    • Producing The Ideal Gendered Reader: Kames and More


    Polemical Postscript

    Bibliography

    Index

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