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"Novels and their Paratexts, Letters and Reviews: The Construction of Gendered Author-Identities Around 1800"

Dr. Katharina Rennhak
(Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)

What does it mean to be an author? And what are the gender implications of 'authorial identities'? – The project builds on the assumption that these questions have received different answers in different cultural and historical contexts, but that they are invariably negotiated and decided discursively in the various textual media which define the literary landscape: novels and their paratexts, authorial self-fashionings in letters and autobiographical narratives, reviews and criticism.

A study of gendered authorial identities around 1800 seems especially promising: As has been shown by recent scholarship, the later phase of the long eighteenth century not only saw the triumphal (discursive) procession of the ideology of separate spheres and (as a consequence?) the beginning of the marginalisation and exclusion of women writers from literary histories; but it was also the time when female novelists were rapidly gaining a significant market share.

The project gets its special profile not only through firmly relating these three observations, but also through the material analysed. Without buying into and cementing the binary opposition of 'private and public', but by reading it as a dominant discursive strategy at the time, the project looks at what could be called 'private textual material' on the one hand and 'public textual material' on the other: It compares constructions of authorial gendered identities in texts which (like e.g. letters) are produced in and for private spaces and performances with author-identities constructed in and through texts which (like e.g. reviews) negotiate them in and for the public realm.

What also comes into view, are dedications, prefaces and other paratexts of novels which always function as interfaces between the literary and the non-literary discursive realm, and very often serve as a space where the authors construct themselves as someone leaving the private and entering the public sphere. The analysis of paratexts not only promises answers to questions about the gendering of the (literary, political, and/or cultural) 'authority' of authorial identities; as paratexts are also a space where authors often discuss their poetic concepts, the project hopes to contribute to the study of the gendering of the poetics of (gendered) narrative genres around 1800, too.


0 Entries found.


Dr. Katharina Rennhak (* 1970)

Studied English and German at Munich and Maynooth, Ireland, graduated in 1997 (Erstes Staatsexamen für das Lehramt an Gymnasien) and received her Dr.phil. in 2001, both from Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München, where she has been teaching English Literature since 1997. She was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the English Department of the University of Texas at Austin (spring term 2004).

Her doctoral dissertation on concepts of language in the meta-historical novel has been published as Sprachkonzeptionen im metahistorischen Roman: Diskursspezifische Ausprägungen des Linguistic Turn in Critical Theory, Geschichtstheorie und Geschichtsfiktion 1970-1990 (München: Fink, 2002). She has published several articles and co-edited (with Virginia Richter) Revolution und Emanzipation: Geschlechterordnungen in Europa um 1800 (Köln: Böhlau, 2004); and (with Christoph Bode) Romantic Voices, Romantic Poetics: Selected Papers from the Regensburg Conference of the German Society for English Romanticism (Trier: wvt, 2005).

She is currently co-editing a volume on 'Female Novelists Constructing Masculinities' with Sarah Frantz; her main ('Habilitations'-)project at the moment is a book on narrative cross-gendering and the construction of masculinities in women writers' novels around 1800.


11 Entries found.

    Richter, Virginia (Ed.). Revolution und Emanzipation: Geschlechterordnungen in Europa um 1800. Köln: Böhlau, 2004
    Heipcke, Corinna. Autorhetorik: Zur Konstruktion weiblicher Autorschaft im ausgehenden 18Jahrhundert. Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang, 2002
    Rinnert, Andrea. Körper, Weiblichkeit, Autorschaft: Eine Inspektion feministischer Literaturtheorien. Königstein: Helmer, 2001
    Fulford, Tim. Romanticism and Masculinity: Gender, Politics, and Poetics in the Writings of Burke, Coleridge, Cobbett, Wordsworth, De Quincey, and Hazlitt. London: Macmillan, 1999
    Ingrassia, Catherine. Authorship, Commerce, and Gender in Eighteenth-Century England. Cambridge: CUP, 1998
    Kord, Susanne. Sich einen Namen machen: Anonymität und weibliche Autorschaft 1700-1900. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1996
    Schabert, Ina, und Barbara Schaff (Ed.). Autorschaft: Genus und Genie in der Zeit um 1800. Berlin: Schmidt, 1994
    Shoemaker, Robert B. Gender in English Society, 1650-1850: The Emergence of Separate Spheres?. London: Longman, 1998
    Honegger, Claudia. Die Ordnung der Geschlechter: Die Wissenschaften vom Menschen und das Weib. Frankfurt a.M./New York: Campus, 1992
    Habermas, Jürgen. Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit: Untersuchungen zu einer Kategorie der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft. Mit einem Vorwort zur Neuauflage 1990. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1990
    Landes, Joan B. Women and the Public Sphere in the Age of the French Revolution. Ithaca, New York: Cornell UP, 1988

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The database was created by the participants of the Network 'Mediating Identities in 18th Century England' and will be updated on a regular basis.
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