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Making Women's HistoriesBeyond National Perspectives$
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Pamela S. Nadell and Kate Haulman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814758908

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814758908.001.0001

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Gender and the Politics of Exceptionalism in the Writing of British Women’s History

Gender and the Politics of Exceptionalism in the Writing of British Women’s History

Chapter:
(p.115) 5 Gender and the Politics of Exceptionalism in the Writing of British Women’s History
Source:
Making Women's Histories
Author(s):

Arianne Chernock

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814758908.003.0005

This chapter examines the political nature of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century historical production on British women by focusing on a genre of women's history called “women worthies.” After discussing the range of motives and objectives underlying the “woman worthy” genre as it developed in Britain in the mid-eighteenth to mid-nineteenth centuries, the chapter considers how histories of British “women worthies” became instrumental for advancing the debate over woman's capacity to learn and to exercise civic and political rights. In particular, it explains how the “woman worthy” enabled writers to formulate alternative and often inspirational models of womanhood, think more broadly and critically about the status and rights of women, and evaluate the politics of “Britishness” more generally. Finally, it assesses the implications and legacies of women worthies for approaches to the contemporary writing of women's and gender history.

Keywords:   women worthies, British women, women's history, Britain, womanhood, politics, Britishness, gender history, gender

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