Paper trails and eloquent objects: bluestocking friendship and material culture

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18 Citations (Scopus)


The bluestocking circle valued friendship as a rational virtue. While inspired by classical Stoic ideals, they were also highly conscious of the role played by material culture in bridging the distance between individuals. Letters between Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Portland (collector of natural history specimens and art), Mary Delany (botanical illustrator), and Elizabeth Montagu (critic and salon hostess) reveal how emblems and gifts of friendship could subvert prescriptions of female 'accomplishment' and complicate the relationship between the intimate and the public. Working with paper, ink, and feathers, bluestockings engaged with the categories of nature and art in ways that reveal friendship as both spontaneous and constructed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109 - 138
Number of pages30
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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