Monday, June 13, 2005

Why the Eighteenth Century?
Some of you might be wondering why we find the eighteenth century so interesting. I can only speak for myself, but I think for me is because it was a vibrant and ever-changing period in history. Lots of movement, revolution, developments in art, architecture, literature etc.

It was a time when women had a measure of freedome. Not what many of US would consider freedom, but certainly more than their Victorian descendants. In the upper classes, marriages were arranged, but often once the heir and the spare had been successful brought forth, if the couple wasn't compatible they would lead separate lives.

Granted, women in the lower classes, while also have freedom, had to deal with poverty and feeding many, many mouths.

Hardly a surprise, then, that by the end of the century, Mary Wollstonecraft was advocating for women's rights in England with her Vindication of the Rights of Women, while Olympe de Gouges crafted a Declaration of the Rights of Women in 1791.

Women's history has always been of special interest to me, so now I think about it, maybe this is why I find the Age of Enlightenment so fascinating. I'm currently reading Pandora's Breeches: Women, Science and Power in the Enlightenment, by Patricia Fara, in which she explores the role women played in some of the great scientific discoveries of the period. The women I've met so far have proven to be intelligent, witty and brilliant in their ability to combine the traditional female roles of wife and mother, with that of scientist and writer.

Follow this with the upheaval of the French Revolution and the roles that women played there, is it really any wonder this era draws so many of us in and invites us to write about it?



Blogger Rene said...

You took the words right out of my mouth, Teresa. I also like the clothes.

The attitude of the 18th century more closely mirrored our own than the 19th.

Women were much more in the forefront during the 18th century. In fact, Georgiana lamented the lack of women's influence in the political sphere when she returned to society after her exile. I think she was quite disappointed that her daughters accepted their watered-down roles in society.

1:24 PM  

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