"Laura Green's generous intelligence and literary sensibility mark every turn taken by these alert readings. Tracing the lines of stress shot through women's educational reform by both domestic ideology and liberal individualism, this study of Victorian fiction is itself an education."
Andrew H. Miller, editor of Victorian Studies
"Educating Women offers insights into gender ideologies in Victorian England and into the specific ways they play out in important Victorian novels. Every page of this study offers something new to think about, and the study as a whole provides a new lens through which to view Victorian literature."
Susan J. Leonardi, author of Dangerous by Degrees and The Diva's Mouth: Body, Voice, and Prima Donna Politics
In 1837, when Queen Victoria came to the throne, no institution of higher education in Britain was open to women. By the end of the century, a quiet revolution had occurred: women had penetrated even the venerable walls of Oxford and Cambridge and could earn degrees at the many new universities founded during Victoria’s reign. During the same period, novelists increasingly put intellectually ambitious heroines students, teachers, and frustrated scholars—at the center of their books. Educating Women analyzes the conflict between the higher education movement’s emphasis on intellectual and professional achievement and the Victorian novel’s continuing dedication to a narrative in which women’s success is measured by the achievement of emotional rather than intellectual goals and by the forging of social rather than institutional ties.
Focusing on works by Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, Anna Leonowens, and Thomas Hardy, Laura Morgan Green demonstrates that those texts are shaped by the need to mediate the conflict between the professionalism and publicity increasingly associated with education, on the one hand, and the Victorian celebration of women as emblems of domesticity, on the other. Educating Women shows that the nineteenth-century “heroines” of both history and fiction were in fact as indebted to domestic ideology as they were eager to transform it.
Laura Morgan Green is an assistant professor in the English department at Northeastern University. She has published articles on Thomas Hardy and George Eliot and has also written for Salon.com and Poets and Writers magazine. More info →
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