The Life of the Female Mind: Hester Mulso Chapone and the Gendered Rhetoric of Experience

The Life of the Female Mind: Hester Mulso Chapone and the Gendered Rhetoric of Experience

Peitho Volume 21 Issue 1 Fall/Winter 2018

Author(s): Bethany Mannon

Abstract: This article studies the writings of Hester Mulso Chapone (1727-1801) a prolific member of the late-eighteenth century Bluestocking circle. Working within genres traditionally available to women, most notably the conversational rhetoric of letters, Chapone advocates for an expanded social role and rhetorical education for young women. These letters later circulated publicly as Letters on Filial Obedience (1751) and Letters on the Improvement of the Mind (1773). Chapone’s participation in a tradition of feminist writing deserves attention because of her success foregrounding personal experience as a source of authority and deploying personal writing to persuade, inform, and confront prevailing power structures

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