"For the Benefit of: British Women's Benevolent Publication in the Long Eighteenth Century"
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The WSU Humanities Center invites faculty, students, staff, and the community to a Brown Bag talk given by Emily Spunaugle (Ph.D. Candidate, English) on the topic of "For the Benefit of: British Women's Benevolent Publication in the Long Eighteenth Century".
Abstract:Cultural rhetoric of the late eighteenth century disdained British women’s participation in money-making activities. Even so, publications authored by women, including novels, poetry, and treatises, soared during this period. Notably, this period also witnesses a rise in texts by women published “for the benefit of” charity, such as hospitals and distressed families—an under-interrogated category of text that I term “benevolent publications.” Benevolent publications explicitly state their charitable intent on title pages and prefaces to entice potential purchasers and readers. These publications were likely produced in small print-runs, drawing their authors, readers, and charitable objects together into close albeit complex social and economic entanglements.
Rather than evaluating these “minor” texts’ literary merit, I instead evaluate these texts on their own terms: how were these texts offered to the public? What genres and formats were best suited to women’s benevolent publications? How does gender shape the financing, circulation, and the “work” performed by these publications? How do these publications participate in the print market, but challenge the notion of commercial publication? This talk will hone in on select instances of women-authored benevolent publications and their financing, mediation into print, purchase, circulation, and evidence of charitable profitability.
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