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Palgrave Macmillan

Women, the Novel, and Natural Philosophy, 1660-1727

ISBN 9781137389206
Publication Date March 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Women, the Novel, and Natural Philosophy, 1660-1727 shows how early women novelists drew on debates about the self generated by the 'scientific' revolution to establish the novel as a genre and literary omniscience as a point of view. These writers such as Aphra Behn, Jane Barker, Eliza Haywood, and Mary Davys used, tested, explored, accepted, and rejected ideas about the self in their works to represent the act of knowing and what it means to be a knowing self. Karen Bloom Gevirtz agues that as they did so, they developed structures for representing authoritative knowing that contributed to the development of the novel as a genre, and to literary omniscience as a point of view.

Karen Gevirtz is Associate Professor of English and Co-Director of the Women and Gender Studies Program at Seton Hall University, USA. She is the author of Life after Death: Widows and the English Novel, Defoe to Austen and the co-editor of Gender and Space in British Literature, 1660-1820 (with Mona Narain).

1. Notions of the Self
2. An Ingenious Romance:The Stable Self
3. The Fly's Eye: The Composite Self
4.The Detached Observer
5. The Moral Observer


"'Exploring 'scientific' writers such as Newton, Boyle, Hooke, and Locke in the context of well-known and largely female literary writers like Behn, Barker, Haywood, and Davys, Gevirtz's ideas are fresh and new and will contribute widely to contemporary discussions of science and the history of the novel, as well as women's writing and culture, gender issues in this historical period, and narrative strategies." - Judy Hayden, Professor of English and Writing, The University of Tampa, USA
"Connecting the practices of the natural philosopher with those of the novelist, Karen Gevirtz offers an incisive, lucid account of the fashioning of a knowing yet detached narrator within early fiction by women. Women, the Novel, and Natural Philosophy, 1660-1727 is as astute about Boyle and Newton as it is about Behn and Haywood, drawing together the prehistories of scientific objectivity and novelistic omniscience in an original narrative on the emergence of a modern self." - Peter Walmsley, Professor of English, McMaster University, Canada
"Karen Gevirtz writes with remarkable skill on relations between literature and science in the early modern period. This is a book that turns conventional literary history inside out and offers fresh perspectives on technologies of the observing self and emerging forms of prose fiction." - Alvin Snider, Associate Professor of English, The University of Iowa, USA
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