The publication of Mary Wollstonecraft’s manifesto A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) marked the beginning of the modern women’s movement in England. The century that followed saw an explosion of writing by women, fueled by an increase in literacy and access to education, as well as new ideals of democracy and equality. From the creation of a new kind of monster in Frankenstein, written by Wollstonecraft’s daughter Mary Shelley, to the trials of the marriage market in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; from George Eliot’s meditations on the status of women in Middlemarch to the metaphysical puzzles of Olive Schreiner’s The Story of an African Farm, English women wrote themselves into history and into our literary heritage. This presentation and conversation traces the arc of a century of women’s writing, accompanied by images from the MFA’s collections.
Laura Green, associate dean, Teaching, Learning, and Experiential Education; acting director, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; professor, English and WGSS, Northeastern University