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"A Laudable Ambition Fired Her Soul": Conduct Fiction Helps Define Republican Womanhood, Community, and Education in the Works of Judith Sargent Murray, Hannah Webster Foster, and Susanna Rowson

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Date Issued:
2011
Abstract/Description:
This study examines the major works of Judith Sargent Murray, Hannah Webster Foster, and Susanna Haswell Rowson, three major writers of the 1790s whose writing responds to the ideologies of the early American Republic. I suggest that Murray, Foster, and Rowson write conduct fiction which responds to the changing attitudes toward women and education after the American Revolution. Using fiction, these authors comment on the republican woman, the need for women's education, and the necessity for women to gather in communities for support. Despite the prevailing notion that reading too many novels would corrupt young women, Judith Sargent Murray's novella, The Story of Margaretta (1786), Hannah Webster Foster's novels, The Coquette (1797) and The Boarding School (1798), and Susanna Rowson's novels, Charlotte Temple (1794) and Reuben and Rachel; or, Tales of Old Times (1798), were some of the most popular books in the late eighteenth century. If these novels were not meant to be read by young women, who were the authors' primary audience, why were they so popular? This project situates these questions in the political environment the authors were writing in to show that a relationship exists between what women were reading and how authors of conduct fiction helped facilitate the changing roles of women in the early Republic.
Title: "A Laudable Ambition Fired Her Soul": Conduct Fiction Helps Define Republican Womanhood, Community, and Education in the Works of Judith Sargent Murray, Hannah Webster Foster, and Susanna Rowson.
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Name(s): Workman, Jessica, Author
Logan, Lisa, Committee Chair
Kamrath, Mark, Committee Member
Oliver, Kathleen, Committee Member
, Committee Member
University of Central Florida, Degree Grantor
Type of Resource: text
Date Issued: 2011
Publisher: University of Central Florida
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: This study examines the major works of Judith Sargent Murray, Hannah Webster Foster, and Susanna Haswell Rowson, three major writers of the 1790s whose writing responds to the ideologies of the early American Republic. I suggest that Murray, Foster, and Rowson write conduct fiction which responds to the changing attitudes toward women and education after the American Revolution. Using fiction, these authors comment on the republican woman, the need for women's education, and the necessity for women to gather in communities for support. Despite the prevailing notion that reading too many novels would corrupt young women, Judith Sargent Murray's novella, The Story of Margaretta (1786), Hannah Webster Foster's novels, The Coquette (1797) and The Boarding School (1798), and Susanna Rowson's novels, Charlotte Temple (1794) and Reuben and Rachel; or, Tales of Old Times (1798), were some of the most popular books in the late eighteenth century. If these novels were not meant to be read by young women, who were the authors' primary audience, why were they so popular? This project situates these questions in the political environment the authors were writing in to show that a relationship exists between what women were reading and how authors of conduct fiction helped facilitate the changing roles of women in the early Republic.
Identifier: CFE0004180 (IID), ucf:49039 (fedora)
Note(s): 2011-12-01
M.A.
Arts and Humanities, English
Masters
This record was generated from author submitted information.
Subject(s): early American literature -- 18th century -- conduct fiction -- women's education
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/ucf/fd/CFE0004180
Restrictions on Access: campus 2016-12-15
Host Institution: UCF

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