Complete Story


Winter 2009, 39:1, pages 25-45

"Caloipe," "Mary Lovetruth," and "A Female American": Women Editorialists during the American Revolutionary Era

DOI (Digital Object Identifier): 10.1080/02773940802358802


Articles signed with female pseudonyms and contributed to the newspaper The Massachusetts Spy (1770-1775) demonstrate that female editorialists warranted their public-sphere participation with a wide variety of rhetorical methods. Choice of topic, degree of assent or dissent from male writers, and manipulation of tone, especially humor, assisted in women's public-sphere participation during the Revolutionary period when conventions regarding writerly authority were in flux. In turn, male rhetors used religious and medical warrants to control female public sphere participation. Although women's disagreement about overtly political issues was not tolerated, subtle declarations of patriotic behavior more obviously connected with feminine topics and behavior allowed women authors to write publicly when they aligned their contributions with republican notions of sympathy and concern for the common good. In the end, republicanism rendered women's bodies contested ground, both warranting their public-sphere participation and increasing surveillance over them.

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