Learning to Stand and Speak: Women, Education, and Public Life in America's Republic / Edition 1

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Overview

Education was decisive in recasting women's subjectivity and the lived reality of their collective experience in post-Revolutionary and antebellum America. Asking how and why women shaped their lives anew through education, Mary Kelley measures the significant transformation in individual and social identities fostered by female academies and seminaries. Constituted in a curriculum that matched the course of study at male colleges, women's liberal learning, Kelley argues, played a key role in one of the most profound changes in gender relations in the nation's history: the movement of women into public life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In crisp and often elegant writing, [Kelley] ensures that, because of the indelible and finely etched image of learned women she provides, they will not soon be forgotten agaom."—Journal of American Studies

"Offers fresh and significant insights into literature and literacy, education and social identity, region and nation, gender and access to learning among American women of earlier eras."—Legacy

"A landmark publication in American women's history. . . . Will guide scholarship on early America's free women and learning for years to come."—William and Mary Quarterly

"A detailed analysis of the relationship between education and women's participation in civil society. . . .Best utilized in a course examining the historic relationship between women's education and women's participation in public life."—Feminist Teacher

"A fresh interpretation of the place of education, reading, and voluntary association in American women's lives between the Revolution and the Civil War."—New England Quarterly

"Ambitious and fascinating. . . . Women's voices are vibrantly present."—Journal of American History

"[Kelley's] analysis reflects the nuanced reading that is necessary when employing literary discourse for historical explanation. The volume adds considerably to the historiography on American women, education, and politics."—Journal of the Early Republic

"This book fills an important gap in the historiography. Kelley has provided a wealth of detail about this lost world of educated women, which had a lasting impact on defining women's cultural authority in American society."—American Historical Review

"The book's greatest strength is its archival depth and breadth. . . . Presents an impressive number of examples drawn from the experiences of women across seven decades and at least a dozen states. . . . An important resource for all historians of gender, education or print culture in early republic and antebellum America."—Common-Place

"This superb book persuasively and gracefully makes the case that education . . . was the decisive factor propelling women's entrance into the public sphere during the nineteenth century. . . . Deserves the widest possible readership."—The Historian
"Elegant. . . . Kelley has drawn from a vast array of sources, crossing regional and racial lines, to produce a meticulous argument. Her story explains rather that valorizes."—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"[An] innovative and meticulously researched book."—American Antiquarian Society Newsletter

"A treasure trove of stories about famous and obscure women who cherished learning, books, and, especially, the opportunity to exchange ideas with other women. "—The North Carolina Historical Review

"A work of serious scholarship. . . . An inspiring contribution to the story of women's quiet success in asserting their intellectual and social value."—Roanoke Times

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Mary Kelley is Ruth Bordin Collegiate Professor of History, American Culture, and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan. She is author, coauthor, or editor of six books, including Private Woman, Public Stage: Literary Domesticity in Nineteenth-Century America, The Limits of Sisterhood: The Beecher Sisters on Women's Rights and Woman's Sphere, and The Power of Her Sympathy: The Autobiography and Journal of Catharine Maria Sedgwick.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 You will arrive at distinguished usefulness : the grounds for women's entry into public life 16
Ch. 2 The need of their genius : the rights and obligations of schooling 34
Ch. 3 Female academies are everywhere establishing : curriculum and pedagogy 66
Ch. 4 Meeting in this social way to search for truth : literary societies, reading circles, and mutual improvement associations 112
Ch. 5 The privilege of reading : women, books, and self-imagining 154
Ch. 6 Whether to make her surname more or adams : women writing women's history 191
Ch. 7 The mind is, in a sense, its own home : gendered republicanism as lived experience 245
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