British women writers and the writing of history, 1670-1820 /
Devoney Looser.
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.
xi, 272 p. ; 24 cm.
0801864488 (alk. paper)
More Details
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.
0801864488 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Devoney Looser is a visiting assistant professor of English at Arizona State University.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2001-09-01:
Books whose theses are negative--that seek not to build a new understanding, but simply to unseat an old one--can seem disappointing, but the importance of Looser's work of demolition should not be overlooked. For some years now, the received wisdom about the 18th century has been that history was a masculine province, from which women were deliberately excluded: that men alone read and wrote history, and that the few women readers and writers who strayed into the field did so in order to correct the record by creating a woman-centered history. Through a series of case studies of Lucy Hutchison, Mary Worley Montagu, Charlotte Lennox, Catherine Macaulay, and Hester Piozzi, Looser (Arizona State Univ.) persuasively demonstrates that the received view is false on all counts: 18th-century women read, wrote, and theorized about modern history, and (more important) the same kind of history as their male counterparts. In a final chapter, Looser equally persuasively refutes those recent interpretations of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey that would make the book a rallying cry for a new women's history (instead of a defense of fiction). Looser's 18th century may disappoint current political tastes but has the merit of fitting the facts. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. D. L. Patey Smith College
Review Quotes
"This is a highly intelligent book... Looser's arguments are stepped in the current scholarship on each of these women, and she is a generous scholar who always gives credit where it is due... she will have you thinking about [genre] as you never have before."--Melinda S. Zook, H-Albion, H-Net Reviews
"British Women Writers and the Writing of History, 1670-1820, is an original, ambitious, and exciting book. No study like it currently exists, and the subject is one that has needed to be addressed for some time. Looser covers her topic with impressive scope and detail, ably deploying biographical background, reception theory, and close readings of the works themselves to evaluate the writers." -- Martine Watson Brownley, Emory University
"Taken together, Looser's seven chapters make a persuasive case for locating women's authorship in a broader field of writing than usual."--Deidre Lynch, Modern Language Quarterly
"Devoney Looser's book is important. It establishes the historical consciousness at the core of the achievements of a group of notable women writers over a period of a century and a half... This book achieves its goal of bringing to our attention a series of meritorious writers and texts that exemplify the important place occupied by women in the intellectual life of eighteenth-century England."--Everett Zimmerman, Eighteenth-Century Fiction
"Essential to feminist scholarship in its objective and individualized approach to these authors." -- Jessica Harvey, The East-Central Intelligencer
"An excellent pioneering study of women's contribution to historiography in the long eighteenth century... Looser's work opens up several potential theses and books on historiography by women by drawing attention to the sheer range of possibilities of engagement with history as a form of writing."--Heidi Thompson, Modern Language Review
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, September 2001
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Main Description
Until recently, history writing has been understood as a male enclave from which women were restricted, particularly prior to the nineteenth century. The first book to look at British women writers and their contributions to historiography during the long eighteenth century, British Women Writers and the Writing of History, 1670-1820, asks why, rather than writing history that included their own sex, some women of this period chose to write the same kind of history as men--one that marginalized or excluded women altogether. But as Devoney Looser demonstrates, although British women's historically informed writings were not necessarily feminist or even female-focused, they were intimately involved in debates over and conversations about the genre of history. Looser investigates the careers of Lucy Hutchinson, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Charlotte Lennox, Catharine Macaulay, Hester Lynch Piozzi, and Jane Austen and shows how each of their contributions to historical discourse differed greatly as a result of political, historical, religious, class, and generic affiliations. Adding their contributions to accounts of early modern writing refutes the assumption that historiography was an exclusive men's club and that fiction was the only prose genre open to women.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: British Women Writers and Historical Discoursep. 1
The True and Romantic History of Lucy Hutchinson's Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinsonp. 28
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: Historian of Her Own Timep. 61
Charlotte Lennox and the Study and Use of Historyp. 89
"Deep Immers'd in the Historic Mine": Catharine Macaulay's History in Lettersp. 119
Hester Lynch Piozzi's Infinite and Exact World History, Retrospectionp. 152
Reading Jane Austen and Rewriting "Herstory"p. 178
Notesp. 205
Works Citedp. 235
Indexp. 265
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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