Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dissertation chapter outline

Introduction – what’s it all about?
Feminist theories
What they DON’T do
What I WILL do
What my presumptions are, why these women, why non-fiction, why I will not consider the “change” (if there is a difference we might see it, if there isn’t one that is interesting too, and we won’t see that if we ASSUME that there is a change)

The intrepid author will set out her position in gender studies history – the different strategies (inclusion, exceptions, mainstream representatives) that have made it clear that women as a category were treated differently, but also that there were any number of exceptions to any rule based on that assumption. The list is long: novels ok because they are about the domestic sphere, upper class women ok because they are so powerful, early century ok because family was more important, religious women ok because they spoke for God – all these excuses and exceptions leave me confused and probably left them confused too
The two things most scholars have agreed on is that some sort of conceptual change occurred during the eighteenth century – where women at least rhetorically were relegated to the domestic sphere, and that gender is a useful category of study. The first assumption has been challenged by Vickery, Sweet and others, and the second I want to challenge in this work. I am not about to say that gender is not a useful category, I believe it has been vitally important to rethink our understanding of the past in terms of the experiences of different groups. What I am saying is that the use of gender as a category limits our understanding of the lives of individuals, who are always members of several categories, and gender is not necessarily the primary marker of identity.
In this work, I propose to look at a number of women to see how they related to the category of gender …women who in different ways demonstrated their willingness to transgress ostensible gender boundaries. I then look at how their strategies were received, and how their audience seemed to relate to the relationship between the individual and their gender.
Sweet suggests a plurality of overlapping models of family life (Ordering the World 113), and I want to suggest a plurality of overlapping models of identity … where sometimes gender, sometimes social status or class, sometimes political affiliation, determines the presentation of self of any particular individual.

This is why we need cubist history

Chapter One
where the author describes what different scholars have had to say about the past – the “facts” of oppression and the other facts and how to reconcile them – or not.
A) The change – why this is an interesting period to look at, with a growing
public and public writing, lots of claims about what that does to women retreating into the private sphere and how life is compartmentalized.
- B) Legal and official position – a discussion of citizenship, Shoemaker and Wiesner, against Gunderson
- C) Family life and the body – separate spheres and companionate marriages appearing says L Stone, not so clear says Wrightson, Karen Harvey against Thomas Laqueur and perhaps Fletcher
- D) More complications – business owners of R Sweet, anonymous lawyers mentioned in article, the not so separate spheres of Vickery,
- E) The literary field –( female) writers as professionals, Todd, Backschieder, Richetti duke it out with Bannett and others. For all the anxiety about female writers it does seem clear that women novelists were acceptable – see Cheryl Turner

Chapter Two
- where the author introduces the women one by one and gives a discussion of their lives and works. There is an initial discussion of the implied author (Wayne Booth) and what we are looking for. False humility as a rhetorical device is discussed.
- Section one where Lady Mary is introduced. Lady Mary did not publish non-fiction officially when she was alive – what does that say – she was still very public – what does that say? Was she not intending to be taken seriously? How did she relate to her writing and herself as an author?
- Section two where the author introduces Catharine Macaulay and proceeds to do to her what she did to Lady Mary in the preceding section, but also talks a bit about the colonies and attitudes toward them Discussion of the differences between her early work and the later On Education that DOES have a gendered edge. Also continues the discussion of citizenship and how she could claim that role.
Attention is paid to Katie Davis argument that Macaulay’s position was undermined by her increasingly radical position and that her second marriage was simply an easy way of taking her out.
- Section three where the author (re)introduces Mercy Otis Warren and does the same thing all over again, continuing the colonial discourse. Is she meeker because she is American? How does she relate to the whole idea of republican motherhood?
- Section four where we meet Elizabeth Montagu, etc etc. Here the discussion will be different since she only wrote one text for publication – the rest of her public appearance is as a salonniere - was she seen as a hostess or an intellectual?

Chapter Three
where we may run into some additional characters – Hanna More, Judith Sargent Murray, Mary Astell, Elizabeth Carter, Damaris Masham – as well as some male writers
- Bring back the discussion on the literary marketplace – how my women fit the norms and general expectations

Chapter Four
where the author describes how writers/women/gender relations in general were portrayed by others and how her particular writers were received
- general media descriptions of women, gender, and public life – from the Spectator,
Tatler, Rambler, Annual Register, Gentlemen’s Magazine, Female Spectator, etc

- gender and satirical prints – how gender is performed, what roles women are made
to play and who is seen doing what (from merry milkmaids and widows to patriotic
wives and literary ladies) the background in types and puppet theatre – see Donald (history), McCreery (gender), Atherton (politics and the surprising number of female printers) … Brittania and John Bull as representatives of patriotism (what is going on here? – is this connected to the power struggle between the aristocracy and the middle class, French and British – i.e. manly middle class British values against foppish female aristocratic French – is this part of what Wahrman is saying, go back and check his class perspective)

- specific reactions to my women (reviews, diaries, articles etc)

- the question is asked to what extent audiences accepted the implied author
- how they were portrayed and what that might have meant
- are there distinctions between the prints, the gossip and the diary entries? Are for
instance the prints more dependent on general types with actual people exemplifying
them rather than making comments about specific individuals?

Chapter Five- Conclusions
Wherein the author reveals the implications of her findings as to gender as a category of research (take that Joan Scott), and proceeds to suggest how her approach can be further used and developed to transform historical studies – delivered with only a whiff of hubris.

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