Saturday, January 29, 2011
This is my abstract for the conference. I will turn it in early next week, so feel free to leave comments if there is an unclear section or if you have any suggestions.
My research examines A Present for Young Ladies, which is a collection of educational materials written by the American novelist Susanna Rowson that has received little critical attention entitled. I argue that Present has the potential to expand the critical context of Rowson, nineteenth-century women’s literature, and pedagogical studies.
The 1811 publication is divided into sections that include didactic addresses, poems, and short plays. Present advances a philosophy of female education that advocates the cultivation of independent thought, admonishes idleness, and promotes the retention of feminine grace while promoting that women may have a powerful influence on society. The collection demonstrates Rowson’s "affective-based authority,” which encourages students to challenge lessons and develop conclusions based on independent thought.
Placing the collection in conversation with Rowson’s fiction, especially Charlotte Temple allows for an examination of the paradox between domesticating women and encouraging individuality. In addition to enhancing Rowson studies, Present contributes to existing scholarship on nineteenth-century female novelist-teachers, such as Harriett Beech Stowe and Catherine Maria Sedgwick.
Furthermore, I argue that studying Present could enhance pedagogical studies since Rowson was a preceptress and material from Present was republished in numerous nineteenth-century textbooks. The collection and Rowson’s affected-based authority model are situated within the nineteenth-century national debate of whether the goal of female education was to teach women domestic duties or to provide them with the same education as men.
The visual companion to my research is the following Website: