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BOOK: Revolutions in Taste, 1773-1818 by Fiona Price

By ChiUni 09 Jan 2018

Dr Fiona Price, Senior Lecturer in English

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How and to what extent did women writers shape and inform the aesthetics of Romanticism? Were undervalued genres such as the romance, gothic fiction, the tale, and the sentimental and philosophical novel part of a revolution leading to newer, more democratic models of taste?

Fiona Price takes up these important questions in her wide-ranging study of women's prose writing during an extended Romantic period. While she offers a re-evaluation of major women writers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria Edgeworth, Ann Radcliffe and Charlotte Smith, Price also places emphasis on less well-known figures, including Joanna Baillie, Anna Letitia Barbauld, Elizabeth Hamilton and Priscilla Wakefield.

The revolution in taste occasioned by their writing, she argues, was not only aesthetic but, following in the wake of British debates on the French Revolution, politically charged. Her book departs from previous studies of aesthetics that emphasize the differences between male and female writers or focus on higher status literary forms such as the treatise. In demonstrating that women writers' discussion of taste can be understood as an intervention at the most fundamental level of political involvement, Price advances our understanding of Romantic aesthetics.

“This is an original and fascinating study of important texts by women which will change how they are read. It provides a starting point for discussion of writers who have not received attention, like Harriet and Sophia Lee and Priscilla Wakefield, as well as furthering study of those about whom critical discussion exists, including Clara Reeve and Elizabeth Hamilton.” Lisa Vargo, University of Saskatchewan, Canada

You can purchase Fiona's book here.

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