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The Woman Reader 1837–1914$
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Kate Flint

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198121855

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198121855.001.0001

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Theory and Women’s Reading

Theory and Women’s Reading

Chapter:
(p.17) 2 Theory and Women’s Reading
Source:
The Woman Reader 1837–1914
Author(s):

Kate Flint

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198121855.003.0002

The volume of commentary on women’s reading increased dramatically during the eighteenth century and the early years of the nineteenth. It can be found within general studies of literature, especially those examining the rapid growth of novel production; within the growing number of advice manuals aimed specifically at young girls and their mothers, and within fiction itself. The study of reading, in this as in any period, involves examining a fulcrum: the meeting-place of discourses of subjectivity and socialization. Of pressing concern to those who wished to understand how the individual mind might work, and how it might develop, reading was simultaneously perceived as a prime tool in socialization. It is therefore centrally bound in with questions of authority: authority which manifests itself in a capacity for judgement and opinion based on self-knowledge; and authority to speak, to write, to define, to manage, and to change not just the institutions of literature, but those of society itself.

Keywords:   women, reading, knowledge, fiction, socialization, authority

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