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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

Writing Women's History Since the Renaissance

ISBN 9780333726679
Publication Date January 2003
Formats Hardcover Paperback Ebook 
Publisher Palgrave

The complaint of Catherine Morland in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, that history has 'hardly any women at all' is not an uncommon one. Yet there is evidence to suggest that women have engaged in historical writing since ancient times.

This study traces the history of women's historical writing, reclaiming the lives of individual women historians, recovering women's historical writings from the past and focusing on how gender has shaped the genre of history. Mary Spongberg brings together for the first time an extensive survey of the progress of women's historical writing from the Renaissance to the present, demonstrating the continuities between women's historical writings in the past and the development of a distinctly woman-centred historiography.

Writing Women's History since the Renaissance also examines the relationship between women's history and the development of feminist consciousness, suggesting that the study of history has alerted women to their unequal status and enabled them to use history to achieve women's rights. Whether feminist or anti-feminist, women who have had their historical writings published have served as role models for women seeking a voice in the public sphere and have been instrumental in encouraging the growth of a feminist discourse.

MARY SPONGBERG is Senior Lecturer in Modern History at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. She is the author of Feminizing Venereal Disease (Macmillan, 1997), which was short-listed for the Premier's History Prize.

Introduction: Hardly any Women at all?: Women Writers and the Gender of History
PART ONE: Men's History
The Classical Inheritance
All Histories are against You: Women and the History Men
PART TWO: Women's History
Above their Sex? Women's History 'before' Feminism
History's Romantic Heroines: Women's History and Revolutionary Feminism
Heroines of Domestic Life: Women's History and Female Biography
Women's History and the 'Woman Question'
Amateurs or Professionals?: Women's History in the Academy
Clio's Consciousness Raised?: Women's Liberation and Women's History
Liberating Women's History?: Feminism and the Reconstruction of History
Surpassing the History of Men: Women's History and Lesbian History
Conclusion: Dealing with Difference?


'Greatly expands our understanding both of the history of women's writing - and of the nature of the development of history.' - Professor Barbara Caine, Monash University, Australia 'No other survey of women as writers of history. Valuable for courses on women's history and for general courses on historiography and historical method.' - Professor Pat Thane, Institute of Historical Research, London
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