By Elizabeth Eger
Bluestockings participated within the first wide-scale construction of a countrywide tradition. Exploring the strain among person and collective types of authorship, Eger attracts on visible and published fabrics and unpublished manuscripts to argue for the iconic relevance of rational argument within the historical past of womens' writing.
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Additional resources for Bluestockings: Women of Reason from Enlightenment to Romanticism
7 As Barry’s reflections on Minerva and the muses suggest, women were present in the minds of writers and artists as more than abstract figures or passive consumers – many felt the need to represent real heroines who might provide models of behaviour for contemporary women (and perhaps even men). 8 Recent research into the exhibition catalogues of the Royal Academy has revealed that many women artists exhibited regularly,9 their work including history painting as well as portraits and depictions of flowers.
In this they contrast with earlier paintings of the muses of ancient myth who were often depicted as ethereal figures symbolic of abstract qualities, as lofty bearers of culture who dwell on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. Versions by Raphael and Poussin, for example, occupy unreal, golden worlds. Raphael’s Parnassus gave pride of place to Apollo, playing the fiddle and surrounded by the muses. 10 However, as with the allegorical figures, these are not clearly individuated or labelled, with the single exception of Sappho.
21 It is certainly true that in the eighteenth century, as more and more women participated in the creation and cultivation of polite and professional culture, the means to represent their achievement and authority tended to be found in classical myths and histories of civilisation. Wetenhall Wilkes, in his Essay on the Pleasure and Advantages of Female Literature, published in London in 1741, asked ‘If it were intended by Nature, that Man should Monopolize all Learning to himself, why were the Muses Female, who .