chapter  1
11 Pages

Revisiting the Fin de Siècle: The Threat of the Educated Woman

WithAlison Mackinnon

What did it mean to be an educated woman at the end of the nineteenth century? What does it mean now? In this paper I draw on cultural history to revisit the end of the nineteenth century and explore representations and discourses which revolved around and defined the newly educated woman. I suggest that these images restrained her as surely as material constraints, disallowing the exploration of modes of knowing and being with results which still limit women today. No shrinking violet, the educated woman was a central actor on the historical stage in all Anglophone societies. An acquaintance with her can enrich our understanding not only of the power of education to transform lives but of the central place of relations between the sexes in social change.