On Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

The First of a New Genus

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Pub Date 25 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 02 Aug 2023

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Description

Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) made a pioneering and durably influential argument for women’s equality. Emerging from the turbulent decade of the French Revolution, her vindication delivered a systematic critique of the treatment of women across time and place. Drawing on extensive experience teaching and writing about Wollstonecraft, Susan J. Wolfson offers new insight into how Wollstonecraft’s particular methods, style, and energy make this case for her readers.

Wolfson places this polemic in its political and literary contexts and in relation to Wollstonecraft’s other works about political rights. She considers how Wollstonecraft balanced advocacy for the seemingly universal ideals of the French Revolution with analysis of the gendered exclusions in the vaunted rights of “man.” This book pays particular attention to Wollstonecraft’s literary craft, highlighting the force of her close reading. Wollstonecraft pinpointed the role of gendered phrases and concepts in political discourse, both in her opponents’ metaphors and received ideas and in her own efforts to craft a new political language with which to defend women’s capabilities. Wolfson reveals her as a pioneer in decoupling sex from gender and shows how she provided an enduring model of how to be a female intellectual. Sharing the excitement of reading Wollstonecraft’s work with care for her literary as well as political genius, this book provides fresh perspectives both for first-time readers and those seeking a nuanced appreciation of her achievements.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susan J. Wolfson is professor of English at Princeton University. An expert on the British Romantic era, she is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies. Wolfson’s recent books include A Greeting of the Spirit (2022), Romantic Shades and Shadows (2018), and Reading John Keats (2015), as well as annotated editions of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (2012) and Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (2014).

Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) made a pioneering and durably influential argument for women’s equality. Emerging from the turbulent decade of the French Revolution...


Advance Praise

"Wolfson provides a compelling and classroom-friendly introduction to the troubled private life, flamboyant public career, and charged political afterlife of Mary Wollstonecraft. Her writing is scintillating, with vernacular verve and unflagging narrative drive. This book has everything—point, polish, and an accessibly gripping tale to tell."

--Garrett Stewart, James O. Freedman Professor of Letters, University of Iowa

"Wolfson provides a compelling and classroom-friendly introduction to the troubled private life, flamboyant public career, and charged political afterlife of Mary Wollstonecraft. Her writing is...


Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9780231206259
PRICE $14.95 (USD)
PAGES 208

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