By Jeffrey Steele
Following a strict upbringing and severe tutelage by her father, Fuller went on to make a life as a writer, teacher, and champion for women's rights and equality. She formed many important relationships, most notably with Ralph Waldo Emerson. While Emerson taught Fuller a great deal, including the way to an "inner life", he fell short, as her father had done. But her spiritual struggles with her upbringing and relationships led to her continued intellectual maturity.
Fuller demanded not only political equality for women, but also emotional, intellectual, and spiritual freedom. With Woman in the Nineteenth Century, she advanced the cause of women's rights, urging women to find independence from the roles society had imposed upon them, in the home and with the family. She also promoted legal reform to end inequalities to women and spoke frankly on issues of marriage and relationships. While it shocked many, the first edition of the book sold out within a week in 1845 and sparked serious debate.
In Transfiguring America, Steele takes an in-depth look at Fuller's philosophy before this famous book, and how it makes her an important contributor to theoretical debates. He points out that Fuller'spersonal experiences and her cultural critiques are, in fact, the heart of her distinctive and highly influential writing. This book is further evidence that in addition to her role as one of nineteenth-century America's most po
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