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Laughing Feminism: Subversive Comedy in Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth and Jane Austen

Laughing Feminism: Subversive Comedy in Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth and Jane Austen (Hardback)

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"Laughing Feminism" focuses on comedy in the works of Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth and Jane Austen, authors who scrutinize the subjected prejudices against women in order to expose their absurdity and encourage readers to laugh at the folly of sexist views. By making fun of conduct literature, male authority figures, and courtship practices, the authors challenge commonly accepted views that contributed to women's subordination. Audrey Bilger shows that these women writers employ a full arsenal of comic weapons such as satire, burlesque and parody to combat patriarchal nonsense and make comedy out of the discrepancies between the myth and reality of womanhood. Bilger draws on feminist criticism, comic theory and the methodologies of literary history to provide a context for reassessing the novels of these writers. She examines their cultural milieu to expose the rebelliousness inherent in their work. She then connects 18th-century comic theory to gender issues of their day and shows how each writer exemplified what we might now call Enlightenment feminist humour.

At a time when overt feminist statements could ruin a woman's reputation, comedy enabled these authors to smuggle feminism into their writing. "Laughing Feminism" sheds light on the ways in which Burney, Edgeworth and Austen enlisted the power of comedy in the service of feminism, and in so doing participated in one of the most important ideological movements in the last 300 years.

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