"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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Our Lady of Victorian Feminism is about three nineteenth-century women (Jameson, Margaret Fuller, and George Eliot), Protestants by background and feminists by conviction, who are curiously and crucially linked by their extensive use of the Madonna in arguments designed to empower women.
Of the many literary phenomena that sprang up in eighteenth-century England and later became a staple of Victorian culture, one that has received little attention until now is the “Family Bible with Notes.” Published in serial parts to make it affordable, the Family Bible was designed to enhance the family's status and sense of national and imperial identity.
Tracing the Victorian crisis over the representation of working-class women to the 1842 Parliamentary bluebook on mines, with its controversial images of women at work, Hidden Hands argues that the female industrial worker became even more dangerous to represent than the prostitute or the male radical because she exposed crucial contradictions between the class and gender ideologies of the period and its economic realities.
Amy Levy has risen to prominence in recent years as one of the most innovative and perplexing writers of her generation. Embraced by feminist scholars for her radical experimentation with queer poetic voice and her witty journalistic pieces on female independence, she remains controversial for her representations of London Jewry that draw unmistakably on contemporary antisemitic discourse.