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Higher seminar: Why Mary Wollstonecraft Belongs in Literature Departments

Welcome to this higher seminar for English and Comparative Literature on February 23, 14.30-16, in PA 238.

Our speaker will be Emma Clery, Professor of English Literature, Uppsala University.

There has been a tendency to divide Wollstonecraft’s career into two parts: first, she is the stern moralising Enlightenment philosopher; later, the sensual Romantic woman of feeling. The reality is very different. There are strong currents of subjective expression in her early writings, and a Romantic spirit courses through A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. She addresses there not only the theories of John Locke, but the imaginative power of John Milton and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. She worked alongside the artist and poet William Blake in Joseph Johnson’s publishing house, and literary writers from Shakespeare to Goethe act as a spur to her attempts to combine intellectual argument with strong emotion.

Wollstonecraft constantly confounds our ideas of disciplinary boundaries, and this is in part what continues to make her writings so intriguing and compelling. This paper will examine the emotive and literary dimensions of the two political Vindications, as well as the journal of her Scandinavian tour. Wollstonecraft employs quotation, allusion, and experiments in style and form. She quickly outgrew reliance on conventional modes and was constantly in search of new ways to present her radical ideas on equality and social improvement.

We will continue our discussions over drinks and snacks in the PA corridor after the seminar. All are heartily welcome!

Best regards
Sheila Ghose and Mattias Pirholt, organizers of the Higher Seminars for English and Comparative Literature.

Time and place

28 March 2023, 14:30-16:00

Higher seminar

PA239 (Primus), find us


Arranged by

English and Comparative Literature


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