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Gender, Technology and the New Woman

Lena Wånggren

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The first full-length study of modern technologies in late-Victorian New Woman writing

This book examines late nineteenth-century feminism in relation to technologies of the time, marking the crucial role of technology in social and literary struggles for equality. The New Woman, the fin de siècle cultural archetype of early feminism, became the focal figure for key nineteenth-century debates concerning issues such as gender and sexuality, evolution and degeneration, science, empire and modernity. While the New Woman is located in the debates concerning the ‘crisis in gender’ or ‘sexual anarchy’ of the time, the period also saw an upsurge of new technologies of communication, transport and medicine. As this monograph demonstrates, literature of the time is inevitably caught up in this technological modernity: technologies such as the typewriter, the bicycle, and medical technologies, through literary texts come to work as freedom machines, as harbingers of female emancipation.

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Contents

Introduction
1. The New Woman in Technological Modernity
2. Typewriters and Typists: Secretarial Agency at the Fin de Siècle
3. The ‘Freedom Machine’: The New Woman and the Bicycle
4. Medical New Women I: Nurses
5. Medical New Women II: Doctors
6. Technologies of Detection
Conclusion.

About the Author

Lena Wånggren is a Research Fellow in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, where she also teaches. Her research includes work on gender in nineteenth-century literature and culture, feminist theory, Scottish writing, and the medical humanities. She has published on feminist pedagogy, nineteenth-century writing, and literature and embodiment.

Reviews

This is an astute study of the ways in which late-Victorian literature imagines the figure of the emancipated New Woman as the user of a whole series of late-Victorian inventions, from the bicycle to the typewriter, to technologies of the clinic.  A valuable addition to work on literature and technology.

- Nicholas Daly, University College Dublin

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