Called to Civil Existence

Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of The Rights of Woman


Volume Editor:
Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), a continuation of her Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790), was the first feminist treatise to emerge within a broader context of liberationist human rights theory. Rights of Woman remains, however, relevant and instructive. The essays included here show that Wollstonecraft’s legacy is still with us today as the balancing act between a society where sexual distinction translates into gender prejudice and a utopian order where sexual difference ceases to be a structuring element of social, economic and political bias. Engaging Wollstonecraft's famous argument from a variety of critical perspectives, a range of contemporary scholars offer new trajectories in this volume for the study of Wollstonecraft's historic work and its relevance to our time.

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“Steiner's careful selection and thorough familiarity with each of the essays is evident in her discussion of each in her own introductory chapter. As well as setting out the key arguments of each contributor, Steiner brings them into dialogue, noting similarities and divergences across the collection. While this is the work of an editor, Steiner accomplishes this extremely well, resulting in a collection of 10 essays that preserves diverse research and individual voices, while maintaining a focused and unified direction. […]The Dialogue series intends to bring emerging critical voices into discussion with established literary scholars, and this collection provides a lively and rigorous forum for both established scholars and emerging critics.”
– Kaley Kramer (York St John University), in Women’s Writing October 2014, pp. 1-3
Enit Karafili Steiner: Introduction
Anne K. Mellor: The Debate on The Rights of Woman: Wollstonecraft’s Influence on the Women Writers of Her Day
Elizabeth Raisanen: Mary Wollstonecraft, Anna Barbauld, and Equality Feminism
Gina Luria Walker: The Two Marys: Hays Writes Wollstonecraft
Fiore Sireci: “Defects of Temper”: Mary Wollstonecraft’s Strategies of Self-Representation
Natalie Fuehrer Taylor: “Mistaken Notions of Female Excellence”: Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of Virtue
JoEllen M. DeLucia: A Delicate Debate: Mary Wollstonecraft, the Bluestockings, and the Progress of Women
Simon Swift: Mary Wollstonecraft’s Religious Characters
Molly Desjardins: A “Foretaste” of the Hereafter: Mary Wollstonecraft’s Physio-Religious Sublime
Katharina Rennhak: Hailing a New Man: The Rights of Women, Constructions of Masculinity and Solidarity
Dustin Friedman: Beyond Heterosexuality: Mary Wollstonecraft’s Aesthetic Masculinity
Author Biographies
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