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date: 28 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Charles Brockden Brown’s lifelong commitment to the principles of the Enlightenment is well reflected in his commitment to equal rights for women in education, marriage, and social standing and in his support for women’s economic independence. The strong women he created in his fiction have attracted the admiration of readers and writers over many generations, and his exploration of gender dynamics remains unsurpassed. This essay focuses on two fictional texts, Alcuin; A Dialogue (1798) and the novel Ormond; or, The Secret Witness (1800), in which the promises of the Enlightenment and the American Revolution for the transformation of gender as a social relation are critically examined, their limits tested, and their justice affirmed. Next to the well-known Ormond, the early Alcuin emerges as a masterpiece of social satire and sociological analysis.

Keywords: Charles Brockden Brown, women’s rights, women’s education, marriage, gender, masculinity, sexual politics, equality, Enlightenment, rhetorical strategy

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