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Lecture 16

Women and Sexuality

Mary Wollstonecraft

1. Bluestockings

  • Elizabeth Carter
  • Fanny Burney
  • Elizabeth Montagu
  • Mrs. Thrale
  • Mrs. Barbauld
  • Hannah More

2. Mary Wollstonecraft

Before the Vindication on the Rights of Woman

Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1786-7)


Vindication of the Rights of Men

reply to Burke's Reflections on the French Revolution

Burke's position on landed property

Wollstonecraft's position

The condition of women and the values of the whole society

3. Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)

Readings of the Vindication

civic virtue and rational citizenship

critique of divide between public and private

gendered discourse

4. The text

addressing the middling classes

critique of Rousseau

definition of knowledge - denied to women

women's occupations

military virtue and republican motherhood

critique of court culture


5. After Wollstonecraft

Repudiation of Wollstonecraft

Owenite feminists

William Thompson, Appeal of one Half of the Human Race, Women against the Pretensions of the other Half, Men, to Retain Them in Political, and Thence in Civil and Domestic Slavery; In Reply to a Paragraph of Mr. Mill's Celebrated `Article on Government'. (1825)

Decline of the feminist initiative

Rehabilitation of Mary Wollstonecraft



Barbara Taylor, MaryWollstonecraft 1759-1798' New DNB

Barbara Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination (2003)