A Colonial Woman's Bookshelf

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Wipf and Stock Publishers, 5. feb. 2016 - 232 strani
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A Colonial Woman’s Bookshelf represents a significant contribution to the study of the intellectual life of women in British North America. Kevin J. Hayes studies the books these women read and the reasons why they read them. As Hayes notes, recent studies on the literary tastes of early American women have concentrated on the post-revolutionary period, when several women novelists emerged. Yet, he observes, women were reading long before they began writing and publishing novels, and, in fact, mounting evidence now suggests that literacy rates among colonial women were much higher than previously supposed.

To reconstruct what might have filled a typical colonial woman’s bookshelf, Hayes has mined such sources as wills and estate inventories, surviving volumes inscribed by women, public and private library catalogs, sales ledgers, borrowing records from subscription libraries, and contemporary biographical sketches of notable colonial women. Hayes identifies several categories of reading material. These range from devotional works and conduct books to midwifery guides and cookery books, from novels and travel books to science books. In his concluding chapter, he describes the tensions that were developing near the end of the colonial period between the emerging cult of domesticity and the appetite for learning many women displayed.

With its meticulous research and rich detail, A Colonial Woman’s Bookshelf makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the complexities of life in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century America.

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Reading Women
Devotional Books
Conduct Books
Housewifery Physick Midwifery
Facts and Fictions
Science Books
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O avtorju (2016)

Kevin J. Hayes, Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma, now lives and writes in Ohio. He is the author of several books about American literature, history, and culture, including Folklore and Book Culture; The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson, a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize; and The Library of William Byrd of Westover, for which he received the Virginia Library History Award presented by the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Center for the Book. He is also the recipient of research fellowships from the Boston Athenaeum, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Lilly Library, the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, and the Virginia Historical Society.

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