American Women Writers to 1800

Synopsis

American Women Writers to 1800 advances our knowledge of early American culture. Including works by more than ninety women, many of whom have never before been published, this ambitious anthology captures the cultural and individual diversity of women's experiences in early America. It both complements and extends earlier studies of colonial and Revolutionary America, with writings that observe the natural features and resources of the "New World"; the proliferation of religious movements; racial relations between Native Americans, African Americans, and European settlers; and patriotic and loyalist sympathies during the Revolutionary years. Selections also confront distinctly feminist issues, focusing on women's education; the psychological complexities of girlhood, marriage and childbirth; sexuality; the legal status of women; and the rise of feminist philosophies at the end of the eighteenth century. Along with better known Massachusetts writers such as Bradstreet, Rowlandson, and Knight, this collection presents works by authors from other New England, mid-Atlantic, and southern colonies, by African American and Native American women, and by women who explored the frontier regions. An impressive variety of genres is represented, with extensive selections of memoirs, letters, diaries, poetry, captivity narratives, Native American narratives, essays, sermons, autobiographies, novels, dramas, and scientific and political tracts. Brief biographical introductions to each author, explanatory footnotes, and a comprehensive index and bibliography impress modern scholarship upon this valuable literary collection and offer fertile ground for a radical rethinking of early American women's lives and writings, while challenging our assumptions regarding early America itself.