Countering traditional claims that the feminist movement all but vanished during the early nineteenth century, this thesis suggests feminism remained prominent in both the literature and rhetoric of the time. In tracing the development of the "New Rhetoric," a rhetorical movement that aimed to accommodate new principles of the Enlightenment, I focus in part on the rhetorical battle between Edmund Burke, with his Reflections on the Revolution in France, and Thomas Paine, with his Rights of Man. From there, I suggest that Mary Wollstonecraft, writing in the wake of the Burke-Paine debate and drawing upon the rhetorical philosophy of George Campbell, was able to establish a distinctive feminist rhetoric in her Vindication of the Rights of Woman. This feminist rhetoric had traits that equipped it to continue developing into the nineteenth century, particularly in the works of women novelists such as Jane Austen. My final chapter shows how Austen analyzes Wollstonecraft's rhetoric to better explain how feminist goals of increased understanding and moral agency might be attained.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Guyon, Elisabeth Louise, "The New Feminine Rhetoric: Wollstonecraft, Austen, and the Forms of Romantic-Era Feminism" (2008). Theses and Dissertations. 1345.
Romanticism, feminism, rhetoric, New Rhetoric, Wollstonecraft, Austen, Campbell