CFP: Female Voices in 1770s-1830s: Genres/Forms of Women’s Reading, Self-education and Writing in the Anglo-European Context

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Mary Wollstonecraft, heralding the importance of female education along with the process of life-learning, claims in the preface to the collection, The Female Reader:

  […] supposing a young lady has received the best education, she has advanced but a few steps towards the improvement of her mind and heart – that is the business of her whole life; […] As we are created accountable creatures we must run the race ourselves, and by our exertions acquire virtue: the outmost our friends can do is to point out the right road, and clear away some of the loose rubbish which might at first retard our progress.[1] 

Almost fifty years later, Mary Shelley transposed Wollstonecraft’s suggestions in the short story “Euphrasia; A Tale of Greece” (1838), published in the Keepsake. Like Wollstonecraft’s ideal lady, Euphrasia is a scholar:

The study of the classic literature of her country corrected her taste and exalted her love of the beautiful. While a child she improvised passionate songs of liberty; and as she grew in years and loveliness, and her heart opened to tenderness, and she became aware of all the honor and happiness that a woman must derive from being held the friend of man, not his slave. [2]

The edited volume intends to display and analyse the versatility of the genres in which woman writers were seeking the ways to express themselves and present their development in the years 1770s to 1830s. The forms of self-education include – in addition to literary works – letters, translations, journalistic pieces, reviews, and essays. We also intend to publish papers on female writers who theoretically and practically focus on the significance of reading, for instance, Mary Wollstonecraft, Catharine Macaulay, Miss Chapone, Charlotte Smith, Felicia Hemans, Anna Letitia Barbauld (Ms Aikin), Mary Hays, Maria Jane Jewsbury. Original papers on the well-known female novel-writers of the period – among others, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley and Frances Burney – are also welcome if they centre on the topic of female self-training. The analysed works should present the changing and transitory values questioned by woman writers at the end of the eighteenth and at the beginning of the nineteenth centuries in the decades from 1770s to 1830s, that is, in the Age of Sensibility (Pre-romantic Period) and in the first decades of the Romantic Period.

Contributions are also welcome on cross-cultural relations between British women writers and European ones in order to study their role as mediators in cultural transfers. Articles may focus on women’s role in the translation and reviewing of educational writings into the English language or from English to another European language, and on influential women, like Mme de Staël and Mme de Genlis.

Please, send a 300-word proposal together with a short biography to the editors, Antonella Braida Laplace <> and Éva Antal <>. 

The new deadline for submission of proposals is 31 August 2020.

Antonella Braida Laplace (University de Lorraine, France)
Eva Antal (Eszterhazy Karoly University, Hungary) 

[1]Mary Wollstonecraft, The Female Reader, in The Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, ed. by Janet Todd and Marilyn Butler, vol. 4 (London: William Pickering, 1989), 59-60.
[2]“Euphrasia: A Tale of Greece,” in Mary Shelley: Collected Tales and Stories, ed. by Charles Robinson (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), 302.