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ISBN: 9780198204343

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English Feminism, 1780-1980

Barbara Caine


Barbara Caine's fascinating analysis of feminism in England examines the relationship between feminist thought and actions, and wider social and cultural change over tow centuries. Professor Caine investigates the complex question surrounding the concept of a feminist 'tradition', and shows how much the feminism of any particular period related to the years preceding or following it. Though feminism may have lacked the kind of legitimating tradition evident in other forms of political thought, the ghost of Mary Wollstonecraft was something which all nineteenth- and twentieth-century feminists had to come to terms with. Her story was a constant reminder of the connection between the demand for political and legal rights, and its conflation with the issues of personal and sexual rebellion. Like Wollstonecraft, every woman pioneer into the public arena faced assaults on her honour as well as on her intellectual position. The author also addresses the language of feminism: the introduction and changing meanings of the term 'feminist';the importance of literary representations of women; and the question of how one defines feminism, and establishes boundaries between feminism and the 'woman question'. She ends with a discussion of the new emphasis, post-1980s, on the need to think about 'feminisms' in the plural, rather than any single kind of feminism. analysis of feminist organizations, debates, and campaigns shows a keen sense of the relationship between feminist thought and actions, and wider social and cultural change. The result is a fascinating study with a new perspective on feminists and feminist traditions, which can be used both as an introductory text and as an interpretative work. Professor Caine examines the complex questions surrounding the concept of a feminist 'tradition', and shows how much the feminism of any particular period related to the years preceding or following it. Though feminism may have lacked the kind of legitimating tradition evident in other forms of political thought, the ghost of Mary Wollstonecraft is seen here as something which all nineteenth- and twentieth-century feminists had to come to terms with. Her story was a constant reminder of the connection between the demand for political and legal rights, and its conflation with the issues of personal and sexual rebellion. Like Mary Wollstonecraft, every woman pioneer into the public arena was faced with assaults on her honour as well as on her intellectual position. Professor Caine also addresses the language of feminism: the introduction and changing meanings of the term `feminist'; the importance of literary representations of women; and the question of how one defines feminism, and establishes boundaries between feminism and the `woman question'. She ends with a discussion of the new emphasis, post-1980s, on the need to think about `feminisms' in the plural, rather than any single kind of feminism.

Detailed chronology of events, organizations, publications, and legislation

Can be used both as an introductory text and as an interpretative work

Chronology
Introduction
1: Feminism and the Rights of Women Social change and sexual difference in the late eighteenth century Mary Wollstonecraft and the origins of modern Feminism Feminism and the Woman question
2: Feminism and the Women Question in the early Nineteenth Century Men in feminism: William Thompson and the Unitarian radicals The tragic tale of Caroline Norton Harriet Martineau and the slow development of feminist consciousness Feminism, Evangelicalism, and `Women's sphere'
3: Mid-Victorian Feminism The Langham Place circle and the ghost of Mary Wollstonecraft Feminism, liberalism, and the problem of sexual oppression Feminist campaigns and feminist strategies Nation and empire in Victorian feminism
4: The New Woman and the Militant Feminism and the new woman Feminism, the labour movement, and working-class women Militancy Feminism and imperialism
5: Feminism and the Woman Citizen in the Inter-War Years The legacy of the War A feminist programme Training women for citizenship Feminist questions and party politics From politics to culture: feminist theory in the 1920s and 1930s Feminism and internationalism
6: The Post-War World The impact of war Feminist organizations and the feminist agenda The woman question in the 1950s and 1960s
Afterword: From Feminism to Feminisms
Notes
Select Bibliography
Index

Barbara Caine , Professor of Modern History, Monash University, Australia

As with his earlier life of Hartington, Jackson's biography is a welcome and most useful addition to our understanding of a significant political figure, whose legislative legacy is still very much around us./Allen Warren/EHR February 1999, vol.CXIV No 455.

`provides a welcome synthesis of a generation of scholarship on feminism as political movement and ideology ... her account highlights a wide variety of individuals, movements, and texts ... for those unfamiliar with the vast literature on English feminism, this is a smart and helpful guide ... Caine's analysis is most innovative where she fills persistent lacunae in historians' accounts of feminism' Laura E. Nym Mayhall, The Catholic University of America, Twentieth Century British History, vol 10, no 2 1999