Revised Reading of Mary Hays’ Philosophical Novel Memoirs of Emma Courtney (1796)

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This text is the first to analyze Hays’ most popular work, framed in the political and social environment of its generation, including contemporary criticisms and parodies of the work.


“…a welcome addition to Hays criticism….demonstrates the currency of Hays’ writing within Romantic-period cultures of selfhood and subjectivity, politics and society, literary modes and models.” – Prof. Jacqueline Labbe, University of Warwick

“…an important contribution, not only to literary history, but also to the domain of the history of ideas and feminism.” – Prof. Gunilla Florby, University of Gothenburg

“[The author] offers a fascinating insight into the informal intellectual and social networks of the revolutionary 1790s, and the new, provocative ideals of womanhood that arose from them.” – Prof. Janina Nordius, University of Gothenburg

Table of Contents

Preface Professor Jacqueline Labbe
List of Abbreviations

Chapter One: An Educationalist out of her Time
1.1 A Female Unitarian
1.2 Wollstonecraft and Hays

Chapter Two: A Philosophy of Memoirs
2.1 Multifarious Modes
2.2 A Spectrum of Philosophy
2.3 An Enlightenment Object of Study
2.4 A Jacobin Heroine
2.5 A Victim to Enthusiasm of Feeling
2.6 A Mysterious Inexplicable Being
2.7 Insanity and Reason
2.8 Withdrawing a Sacred and Mysterious Veil

Chapter Three: Dissenting Correspondences
3.1 A Perfect Union of Minds: John Eccles
3.2 With a Freedom of Candour: William Frend
3.3 Lions in the Den: William Godwin

Chapter Four: Parody and Proliferation
4.1 Wallowing in the Mire: Memoirs of Modern Philosophers
4.2 Lloyd’s Gertrude: Edmund Oliver
4.3 Emma in France




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