Astell, Mary. A Serious Proposal to the Ladies: Parts I and II
2002, Broadview Press
Added by: Francesca Bruno
Publisher's Note: Mary Astell's A Serious Proposal to the Ladies is one of the most important and neglected works advocating the establishment of women's academies. Its reception was so controversial that Astell responded with a lengthy sequel, also in this volume. The cause of great notoriety, Astell's Proposal was imitated by Defoe in his "An Academy for Women," parodied in the Tatler, satirized on the stage, plagiarized by Bishop Berkeley, and later mocked by Gilbert and Sullivan in Princess Ida.
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Comment: This new edition by Patricia Springborg of Mary Astell's A Serious Proposal to the Ladies: Parts I and II includes helpful introductory material and explanatory annotations to Astell's text. Springborg's introduction places Astell's work in the context of the woman question and the debate over empirical rationalism in the eighteenth-century. Astell defends women-only education, arguing against the dangers of women failing to think for themselves. This text is good to use in an early modern course. It could also be considered in a course on feminist philosophy as an example of early feminist thought (predating Mary Wollstonecraft).