Controversies and contradictions: approaches to the study of Harriet Martineau 1802-76

Weiner, Gaby (1992). Controversies and contradictions: approaches to the study of Harriet Martineau 1802-76. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis is a reassessment of Harriet Martineau's place in feminist and mainstream scholarship. It focuses on Harriet Martineau, first, as a subject of research and, second, as an object of text. The importance of Harriet Martineau as a subject of research is explored through consideration of her social position as a nineteenth-century, female, unmarried, middle-class, writer, reformer and intellectual. Further, it is claimed that she provides one of the links between Enlightenment feminism and the nineteenthcentury women's xtcvement in Britain, and that her prioritisation of economic and legal advances for women marks her out as an important feminist theorist. In particular her leaders on the condition of women in the Daily News merit wider attention. As an object of text, Harriet Martineau is investigated through the work of her biographers, ranging from her contemporaries to coimientaries written in the 1970s and 1980s. In examining Harriet Nartineau's writing and that of her biographers, opportunities are provided for the exploration of a range of issues within feminist theory and scholarship. These include questioning conventional notions of significance, the relationship between theory and methodology in feminist research, and the subjective reading of texts.

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