British women novelists and the review periodical, 1790-1820
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Between 1790 and 1820, women published more novels than men -- unlike any period before or after. It is remarkable that women assumed dominant authorship of the novel just as it began to gain attention as a literary genre, especially considering the cultural status of women in eighteenth-century Britain. My dissertation combines qualitative and quantitative methodology to uncover the contemporary critical response to this unique moment in literary history. Literary historians continually trivialize the quality of these novels by women, and ignore contemporaneous critical conversation recognizing women's dominance of novel writing during this period. Using a database that I have built that catalogs the reviews of novels from The Critical Review and The Monthly Review, and close readings of reviews and prefaces, I trace Reviews' and writers' conversation about the female authorship of the novel. My project identifies the Reviews' role in shaping our modern literary canon, its influence on germinal novelists like Jane Austen, and provides data on the Reviews' lasting influence on the novel as a genre.