Memory's Daughters: The Material Culture of Remembrance in Eighteenth-Century America

Overview

A renowned literary coterie in eighteenth-century Philadelphia—Elizabeth Fergusson, Hannah Griffitts, Deborah Logan, Annis Stockton, and Susanna Wright—wrote and exchanged thousands of poems and maintained elaborate handwritten commonplace books of memorabilia. Through their creativity and celebrated hospitality, they initiated a salon culture in their great country houses in the Delaware Valley. In this stunningly original and heavily illustrated book, Susan M. Stabile shows that these female writers sought to ...

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Overview

A renowned literary coterie in eighteenth-century Philadelphia—Elizabeth Fergusson, Hannah Griffitts, Deborah Logan, Annis Stockton, and Susanna Wright—wrote and exchanged thousands of poems and maintained elaborate handwritten commonplace books of memorabilia. Through their creativity and celebrated hospitality, they initiated a salon culture in their great country houses in the Delaware Valley. In this stunningly original and heavily illustrated book, Susan M. Stabile shows that these female writers sought to memorialize their lives and aesthetic experience—a purpose that stands in marked contrast to the civic concerns of male authors in the republican era.

Drawing equally on material culture and literary history, Stabile discusses how the group used their writings to explore and at times replicate the arrangement of their material possessions, including desks, writing paraphernalia, mirrors, miniatures, beds, and coffins. As she reconstructs the poetics of memory that informed the women's lives and structured their manuscripts, Stabile focuses on vernacular architecture, penmanship, souvenir collecting, and mourning. Empirically rich and nuanced in its readings of different kinds of artifacts, this engaging work tells of the erasure of the women's lives from the national memory as the feminine aesthetic of scribal publication was overshadowed by the proliferating print culture of late eighteenth-century America.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Susan M. Stabile has given us a great gift: a sense of the world inhabited by America's first constellation of literary women. Her abandonment of chronology and disinclination to introduce any sort of narrative of development are a challenge to traditional historians. Instead, they force one into the perspective of the persons she is treating. The payoff is a heightened impression of immediacy—there are places in the book where we really get into the skin of these women. Memory's Daughters is truly one of the great books written about early America in the last twenty years."—David Shields, editor, Early American Literature
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801440311
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 11/15/2003
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface: Mnemosyne's Gift
Introduction: The Genealogy of Memory 1
Ch. 1 The Architecture of Memory 19
Ch. 2 Pen, Ink, and Memory 74
Ch. 3 Among Her Souvenirs 129
Ch. 4 In Memoriam 178
Conclusion: The Ruins of Time 228
Notes 235
Index 277
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