Where Sleeping Giants Lie: Eighteenth-Century Women Writers and the Shaping of American Literature


Do eighteenth-century American women writers have a place inside the classroom or the canon, and if not, does their work merit such a place?Where Sleeping Giants Lie

This project seeks to find whether or not women were writing in early America and whether any writing coming out of that period was literary. By looking at historical documentation, critical theory, and at the rhetoric of the women, themselves, I aim to piece together a lucid, but admittedly incomplete, picture of the cultural and social aspects of women’s authorship as well, genres utilized, and any affluence or effect women’s writing had on their individual communities.

What I discovered through researching this topic is that an astounding amount of work was not only being produced but actually published in the mid-to-late eighteenth century, even though literary culture is often thought to be a nineteenth-century male construct. I found three authors, in particular—Mercy Otis Warren, Judith Sargent Murray, and Susanna Rowson—whose literary accomplishments are impressive not only by eighteenth-century standards but also by the very standards which have long excluded them from the canon.

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