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Enlightenment women's voices: gender roles and personal issues

Enlightenment women's voices: gender roles and personal issues
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УДК 82.09-343:821.111(73)
Запорожець Г.В., Миколаївський державний гуманітарний університет ім. Петра Могили
Enlightenment women's voices: gender roles and personal issues
Стаття "Жіночі голоси Просвітництва: гендерні ролі у суспільстві та особистісні питання " розглядає зміни у житті американців вісімнадцятого сторіччя і, перш за все, гендерні ролі, де домінувала патріархальна традиція в усіх сферах, в тому числі і в літературі. Найбільш відомі романи цього часу "Шарлота, правдива історія " Сюзани Росон та "Кокетка, історія Елізи Вартон " Ганни Фостер піднімають питання про місце жінки у суспільстві, яке до сьогодні є актуальним.
The article considers the changes in the American society in the 18th century and investigates the gender roles in all spheres of life including literature. The most famous novels of the time are Susanna Haswell Rowson's "Charlotte Temple" and Hannah Foster's "The Coquette; or, The History of Eliza Wharton" that discuss the actual today question of women's place in society. Eighteenth-century Americans witnessed significant changes in their lives, changes demographic, economic, political, cultural. The population grew both by natural increase and by the migration that was marked by increasing numbers of non-English settlers - Scotch-Irish, German, Scottish, Dutch, French, Jews, about 275,000 black slaves were brought to the colonies during the century; Spanish missionaries moved to Florida and Southwest. Ethnic diversity strengthened the population and helped bring about a rising standard of living, which influenced all spheres of life in colonies including literature. Like their European counterparts, educated colonists were well aware of the scientific findings of Sir Isaac Newton, political, scientific and philosophical theorizing of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke and agreed with Alexander Pope's assertion that Newton showed the superiority of mankind in his ability to "unfold all Nature's Laws".
Gender roles in the 18th century were fairly well established in most communities. The patriarchal social tradition allocated to men certain social privileges outside the home - church and state affairs, that were not available to women. Colonial life, especially in the first half of the eighteenth century, was hierarchi-cally structured, men over women, and whites over blacks and Native Americans. Power was in the hands of the dominant white men, typically educated and engaged in city or colonial govern-ment. The number of women, Afro-Americans, Native Americans who participated in print culture was very small in the eighteenth century.
The abundance of the literature from this era might lead readers falsely to conclude that most Americans could both read and write. Yet most- almost all blacks, half the white women, and one- fifth the white men-could do neither. Colonial culture was-at least in the first half of the eighteenth century, before the market economy started to develop and printing became established-an oral culture, one that de-pended upon the person-to- person trans-mission of information. By mid- century, this situation began to shift. The newer elite culture, made up of merchants and tradesmen in cities and northern farmers and southern rural plantation-holders, was oriented toward the printed medium, toward individual rather than communal accomplishment, and toward the city. Literacy became a sign of status and thus an accomplishment. Parents who held property wanted to distinguish themselves from their neighbors, so they sent their male children to study, usually with the local minister, in preparation for colle-giate training in one of the newly founded universities- schools now known as the College of William and Mary, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Rutgers or to Harvard and Yale. The wealthiest families sent their children to Europe-usually London or Edinburgh (the center of Enlightenment thought in Scotland). Very few families sent women to study but gradually, by mid-century, more and more children- male and female-were being trained in reading and writing.

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