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Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: Love, not hierarchy

Cheryl Ann Edwards, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation examines Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and her creatures—her literary works—both public and private, using a thematic approach to both conventional literary critical issues and social, political, and cultural dimensions because applying any single critical lens exclusively neglects vital perspectives work that emerge from a wider and more holistic consideration. This dissertation treats Shelley's overarching theme of integrative love, the socially humane alternative to the inevitably destructive power relationships found in traditional hierarchies. It seeks to correct misrepresentations and misconceptions of the author and her work that have resulted in much of previous scholarship from the failure to examine Shelley within these broader parameters. Often she has been seen narrowly in terms of her radical parentage, or as the wife of a famous husband, or as the author of a single novel, Frankenstein. This study, however, acknowledges that Mary Shelley was keenly aware of her literary, social, and cultural surroundings, and that she comments in all her works on familial, social, and political issues. By foregrounding this wider range of intellectual engagement with her contemporaries and her culture—including her literary and intellectual culture—this dissertation reclaims some of what has been lost in conventional criticism of Shelley. Focusing on the woman, the writer, and her literary project, as this study does, reveals important and often unappreciated connections that have important literary, social, and political ramifications for Shelley studies. ^

Subject Area

Biography|Literature, English

Recommended Citation

Edwards, Cheryl Ann, "Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: Love, not hierarchy" (2002). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3045513.