Early Feminists and the Education Debates: England, France, Germany, 1760-1810
Carol Strauss Sotiropoulos

About the Author:
Carol Strauss Sotiropoulos graduated from Clark University in 1972 with a major in German and in 1975 with a master’s in comparative literature. Twenty years later she embarked on a doctoral program in comparative literary and cultural studies at the University of Connecticut, having raised three sons while teaching English and German at colleges in central Massachusetts and in Greece. Upon completion of her degree in 2001, she joined the faculty of modern languages and literature at Northern Michigan University. She has authored several articles and given numerous presentations on eighteenth-century woman writers and women’s education, on interactive approaches to teaching literature, and on ways to incorporate writing into adult beginning language courses.

This book examines the ways late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century European educational reformists negotiated transnational political and social obstacles to promote new thinking about women's nature, role, and educational needs. The dominant mentality about women's nature, articulated by Rousseau and reinforced by state interests in reproduction, prescribed an education limited to what women required to fulfill their domestic role.How could reformists argue for broadening girls’ education and hope to gain a responsive audience, as well as private and state support?

Early Feminists and the Education Debates argues that most reformists creatively borrowed from the Romantic semantics of their opposition, as well as from strategies associated with fictional narratives of education, to subvert the ideology of training for domesticity. In particular, many invoked the construct of the “maternal educator,” adapting and reshaping it to stake their claim for women’s advanced education.

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Read an interview with Carol Strauss Sotiropoulos

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