An Aesthetic Pedagogy: Mary Wollstonecraft's Picturesque Style

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Title: An Aesthetic Pedagogy: Mary Wollstonecraft's Picturesque Style
Author: Allen, Meredith Lindsay
Advisors: Dr. John Morillo, Committee Member
Dr. Sharon Setzer, Committee Member
Dr. Sharon Joffe, Committee Chair
Abstract: This paper considers how Mary Wollstonecraft revises a popular aesthetic of the late eighteenth century: the picturesque. Wollstonecraft effectively offers readers pedagogical lessons and inquiries by way aesthetic delineations. It is well-established that she forcefully deconstructs and transgresses aesthetic boundaries in her writing. Wollstonecraft's persuasive language often questions socio-economic powers and cultural practices which frequently marginalized individuals in eighteenth-century England. While many scholars look at the politics of Wollstonecraft's discourse, one area that must be examined more fully is how she utilizes aesthetic terminology to enlighten readers about human understanding. Wollstonecraft's aesthetics challenge set social codes by offering instructional alternatives to the cultural tastes and concomitant ideologies of her day. Using the picturesque, Wollstonecraft advances an empirical study on the symbiotic relationship between exteriority and interiority. She stages a hermeneutic analysis of how external paradigms and internal persuasions mutually condition and often determine the state of an individual's material and psychological well-being. The world at large and the inner self are for Wollstonecraft like texts to be scrutinized and discussed in exegetic writing. She thus engineers her aesthetic discourse to foreground reflections on how individual agency, environment, and circumstantial (dis)advantages impact the development and progress of human subjects. An analysis of Wollstonecraft's use of picturesque tropes in her children's book, Original Stories, and her epistolary travelogue, Letters Written during a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, illustrates how she composes aesthetic prose for instructive measure. In both texts, Wollstonecraft adapts her picturesque descriptions to present an educative sequence of images and stories that cogently define how exterior and interior domains come to be cultivated.
Date: 2007-05-17
Degree: MA
Discipline: English

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