Free pdf The Culture of Sensibility Sex and Society in Eighteenth Century Britain – memorycardzoo.co.uk
When Austen wrote Sense and Sensibility in the 1790s she picked her title carefully contrasting two opposing concepts #That Had Battled For Supremacy #had battled for supremacy at least a century One one side there was good sense On the other there was that nebulous term sensibility which appears everywhere in eighteenth century literature and which meant emotional sensitivity a capacity for artistic or instinctive feeling rather than for rational thought It was a word that novelists essayists and journalists argued over endlessly and in pointedly gendered termsSensibility was a uality female than male and the fact that there was a culture of sensibiility at all in the 1700s is just another way of saying that women were increasingly participating in society Most people thought this was a good thing There was a sense that
would somehow civilise male culture as single sex activities were gradually broken down into of what GJ Barker Benfield calls heterosociality by which I suppose he means social interaction between men and women Most women generally approved of this civilising role although later on Mary Wollstonecraft would devote some time to explaining what utter bollocks it wasIn a new wave of novels women were overwhelmingly shown in a position of sexual vulnerability towards the world For years virtue in distress was the only plot in town Cecilias and Belindas were beset on all sides by
Women Would Somehow Civilise Male Culture As
predatory men Pamelas and Clarissas were idnapped and raped It was feminism of a ind desig. men Pamelas and Clarissas were idnapped and raped It was feminism of a ind desig. J Barker Benfield documents the emergence of the culture of sensibility that transformed British society of the eighteenth century His account focuses on the rise of new moral and.
characters The Culture of Sensibility Sex and Society in Eighteenth Century BritainNed to make people aware of and angry about the dangers women faced immediate purpose of sentimental fiction was to persuade #Men To Treat Women #to treat women with humanity But again the constant association of women with weakness and abuse would eventually start to raise some concerns With such congenital weakness women were it was widely understood
SUSCEPTIBLE TO HAVING TOO MUCH SENSIBILITY SWOONING OVER RAKESto having too much sensibility swooning over rakes romantic ruins The novel mostly written and read by women was held to be rather unserious if not downright corrupting Samuel Johnson wanted the whole medium to be taken over by a few men of genius Men gradually got the message that they were expected to change Farting in coffee houses and seducing housemaids became a little unmannerly people looked to idols like Rousseau for a new type of masculinity Emma Courtney tried to raise her son to Rousseauism and Wollstonecroft gave William Godwin a copy of his novel in an attempt to convert him But in books by men and women there was a constant tension between the desirability of refinement in men and the wish to suare it with manliness whatever that might now mean Two hundred years later in the 1990s I remember similar confusion around the so called New ManThese swirling currents would peak in the 1790s amidst the heightened tensions of the French Revolution Wollstonecraft s Vindication of the Rights of Woman 1792 in some ways took a curious middle line trying to distinguish between a healthy sensibility governed by reason Spiritual values and the struggle to redefine the group identities of men and women Drawing on the full spectrum of eighteenth century thought from Adam Smith to John Locke from th. N one hand and a sensibility dangerously given over to fantasy on the other to which women were especially prone thanks to the nonsensical way they were socialised What Wollstonecraft wanted was to throw out the idea that women were emotional rather than rational creatures Arguably though there were uite a few babies in that bathwater She took for example a very hard line against sexuality was puritanically opposed to masturbation and revolted by the nasty custom of women talking amongst themselves about menstruation But on the main point she got it right Full participation in society reuired that women be recognised as thinking beingsAusten Hays Edgeworth and the other writers of the 1790s and early 1800s did not go as far as Wollstonecraft As the culture lurched towards Victorianism a certain strain of sentimentality became entrenched where marriage was paramount and sexuality was regulated by delicacy almost #out of existence or at least out of #of existence Or at least out
of All this is a lot for one book to try andAll this is a lot for one book to try and and it feels big and dense and sometimes a bit academic than necessary probably like this review The evidence for B B s arguments such as they are comes mainly from the literature of the period rather than direct historical sources and so it s never entirely clear if he s making a point about how people felt and behaved or just how they expressed themselves culturally But it is a fascinating story and one that we just seem to eep replaying over and over every few generations. E Earl of Shaftesberry to Dr George Cheyne and especially Mary Wollstonecraft Barker Benfield offers an innovative and compelling way to understand how Britain entered the modern ag. ,