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date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The social construction of gender in Britain during the Romantic era—in which males were consigned to the public sphere and females to the private sphere under the laws of couverture—produced an all-important difference between the writings of men and women, what we might call masculine as opposed to feminine Romanticism. Male writers tended to celebrate the development of an autonomous self, the divinity of the creative imagination, a political revolution leading to democratic freedom, and the elevation of poetry as the highest genre. Female writers, in contrast, embraced an ideology grounded in family politics; the equality of the sexes and races; the value of rationality, prudence, and self-discipline; a relational self; and the genre of the novel as the form best suited to represent the gradual evolution of the community over time. The Gothic novel offers a compelling example of the difference that gender can make.

Keywords: gender, couverture, sensibility, sympathy, nature, self, slavery, imagination, rationality, genre

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