Thesis (M.A.) from the year 2007 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 2,00, University of Göttingen, 50 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: "Let them be sea-captains, if you will", Margaret Fuller stated in her main work Woman in the Nineteenth Century (Woman 346). Although even nowadays there may be only few female sea-captains, the quoted statement would hardly provoke anyone, at least not someone in our contemporary western culture. However, when regarded in its historical context, two questions arise: Firstly, what underlying gender concept encouraged Fuller to make such a statement, in "a time of excessive gender polarization" (Bomarito (vol2) 1), a time in which the ideal of domesticity and Republican Motherhood (Freedman 25) determined the role of woman? And secondly, how did antebellum American society react to such statements? The first question will be the main issue of part III, the main part of my work. I will begin with Fuller's general gender concept that involves ideas of androgynity and the "degendering" (Davis 182) of language. Next, the major influences on her concept, namely those of transcendentalism (with special consideration of Emerson), Goethe, Fourier and Swedenborg will be dealt with. Lastly, I will consider how Fuller applied her concept to the specific fields outlined in chapter II, that is, marriage, education and economy. I will concentrate on her main work Woman in the Nineteenth Century because Fuller describes her gender concept there in most detail, whereas her other works such as Summer on the Lakes do not contribute much additional information that is of special significance for the understanding of her gender concept. This is especially true in the case of her Memoirs, which was heavily edited and censored by Emerson and others. It rather distorted Fuller's reputation, as Urbanski states (5). Therefore I will only occasionally refer to them, whenever they provide further information that is relevant to my topic. Regarding the second question, I will illustrate the historical and cultural background first against which Fuller placed her gender concept, in order to clarify why her "idea of woman" (W 305) was considered provoking and unconventional in antebellum America. I will deal with the traditional gender concept, along with its ideals such as femininity, Republican Motherhood and domesticity. Then, I will describe the effect this concept had on marriage, evangelical movements, education and economy, and also with what is considered the initiation of the first women's rights movement in America, the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848.
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