Speaking volumes : women, reading, and speech in the age of Austen /
Patricia Howell Michaelson.
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 2002.
xiv, 261 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
0804740755 (alk. paper)
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Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 2002.
0804740755 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 235-253) and index.
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2002-12-01:
That the parts of this book do not really add up to a whole does not detract from its great interest. Working at the intersection of historical linguistics, reading history, and literary criticism, Michaelson (literary studies, Univ. of Texas, Dallas) outlines the way 18th-century observers (like too many modern feminists, in her view) constructed a unitary notion of "women's language"; she then proceeds to a series of case studies of how actual 18th-century women constructed identities through oral speech. The case studies--treating, for example, the genteel Quaker Amelia Opie, the star actress Sarah Siddons--are fascinating, and Michaelson is skillful in ferreting out persuasive evidence of conversations necessarily now lost. She ends with a discussion of how in the years around 1800 novels continued to be read aloud, at home and mainly by women (the Burney family provides especially rich evidence), and with intriguing speculation about how, in Jane Austen and others, the novel written to be so read served as a manual of polite (and impolite) conversation. None of Michaelson's largest theses is new, but she works out their detail with elegance, clarity, and good sense. A pleasure to read, this book is recommended for upper-division undergraduates through faculty. D. L. Patey Smith College
This item was reviewed in:
Reference & Research Book News, November 2002
Choice, December 2002
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Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. xi
Prefacep. xiii
Introductionp. 1
Performing Gender in Speech
Women and Language in the Eighteenth Centuryp. 23
Polite and Plain Language; or, Amelia Opie "Quakerized"p. 64
Acting, Text, and Correct Display: Sarah Siddons to Fanny Pricep. 98
Reading and Speech
Reading and Domesticity Among the Burneys and Other Familiesp. 137
Reading Austen, Practicing Speechp. 180
Notesp. 217
Bibliographyp. 235
Indexp. 255
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