Pliable Pupils and Sufficient Self-Directors
Narratives of Female Education by Five British Women Writers,1778-1814
Pliable Pupils And Sufficient Self-Directors examines writings that focus on female education and developmentby five representative British women writers who flourished between 1778 and1814 - Lady Mary Hamilton, Clara Reeve, Elizabeth Hamilton, Mary Brunton and theearly Jane Austen. In a climate in which female education was a subject ofanxiety in print culture and fiction a site of contestation, and in which womenwere emerging as major producers both of educational writing andheroine-centred, ostensibly didactic fiction, these writers produced fictions offemale education that were pioneering Bildungsromans. Highly gendered, thesefiction explore key tensions generated by the theme of education, including thedialectics between formal and experimental education, between the pliable pupilobedient to pedagogical authority-figures and the more self-sufficientauto-didact, and between a desire for greater institutionalization of educationand a recognition of the flexibility given by distancing from establishedstructures.