American Women of Letters and the Nineteenth-Century Sciences: Styles of Affiliation

American Women of Letters and the Nineteenth-Century Sciences: Styles of Affiliation

by Nina Baym

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During the nineteenth century, the content and institutional organization of the sciences evolved dramatically, altering the public's understanding of knowledge. As science grew in importance, many women of letters tried to incorporate it into a female worldview. Nina Baym explores the responses to science displayed in a range of writings by American women. Conceding that they could not become scientists, women insisted, however, that they were capable of understanding science and participating in its discourse. They used their access to publishing to advocate the study and transmission of scientific information to the general public.

Bayms book includes biographies and a full exploration of these women's works. Among those considered are:
• Almira Phelps, author of Familiar Lectures on Botany (it sold 350,000 copies)
• Sarah Hale, who filled Godey's Lady's Book with science articles
• Catharine Esther Beecher, who based her domestic advice on scientific information
• Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, the actual ghostwriter of her husband's popular science essays
• Emily Dickinson, whose poetry is replete with scientific images.

Baym also investigates science in women's novels, writing by and about women doctors, and the scientific claims advanced by women's spiritualist movements. This book truly breaks new ground, outlining a field of inquiry that few have noted exists.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813529851
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication date: 10/28/2001
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Nina Baym has written many books and essays about American literature, includingAmerican Women Writers and the Work of History, 17901860 (Rutgers University Press). She is the general editor of the Norton Anthology of American Literature. In 2000 she was awarded the annual Hubbell Lifetime Achievement Medal from the American Literature Section of the Modern Language Association. She holds a Swanlund Chair in English and is a Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the English department at the University of Illinois, UrbanaChampaign.

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