“Do we still need studies devoted exclusively to women writers?” Melissa Sodeman asks in the introductory chapter of Sentimental Memorials (17). That she does not provide a preemptive counterargument to those who might answer in the negative suggests that the question is not simply rhetorical. Yet Sentimental Memorials illustrates that we do need such studies, because they are never only about women’s writing but instead broaden our understanding of literary history more generally. Sodeman might as well have asked whether we still need studies devoted to sentimental fiction, an area that, in the eyes of some scholars of the long eighteenth century, was never worthy of critical attention to begin with and by now has been well and truly exhausted.1 Again, however, Sentimental Memorials offers a resoundingly affirmative answer to this question. While studies of eighteenth-century sentimental fiction have long privileged...
Sentimental Memorials: Women and the Novel in Literary History
Juliet Shields is associate professor of English at the University of Washington. Her most recent book is Nation and Migration: The Making of British Atlantic Literature, 1765–1835 (2016). She is working on a study of Protestantism and the “belated” rise of the novel in the United States and Scotland.
Juliet Shields; Sentimental Memorials: Women and the Novel in Literary History. Modern Language Quarterly 1 June 2016; 77 (2): 251–254. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-3464886
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