Cecilia Macheski is associate professor of English at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY.
Listed in: Gender Studies · American Literature · British Literature · Theater - History and Criticism · Literary Criticism · Women’s Studies · Literary Studies
“I here and there o’heard a Coxcomb cry, Ah, rot—’tis a Woman’s Comedy.” Thus Aphra Behn ushers in a new era for women in the British Theatre (Sir Patient Fancy, 1678). In the hundred years that were to follow—and exactly those years that Curtain Calls examines—women truly took the theater world by storm.
Traditional literary theory holds that women writers of the Restoration and eighteenth century produced works of limited range and value: simple tales of domestic conflict, seduction, and romance. Bringing a broad range of methodologies (historical, textual, post-structuralist, psychological) to bear on the works of Eliza Haywood, Charlotte Smith, Sarah Fielding, Fanny Burney, Jane Austen, and others. Fetter'd or Free?
“Fetter’d or Free includes articles on Aphra Behn, Delariviere Manley, Fanny Burney, Ann Radclyffe, Maria Edgeworth, Mary Davys, Jane Barker, Frances Sheridan, Elizabeh Inchbald, Charlotte Smith, Jane West, Mary Brunton, and Hannah More, which in themselves are fascinating reading. However, so too is there the second level of evaluation, which constantly challenges the criteria by which these women writers (ostensibly) have been judged, and it is this which gives the 23 essays in the anthology a distinctive unity.”
Dale Spender, Belles Lettres