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Self-Effacement Revisited

Self-Effacement Revisited

Women and Scientific Autobiography

(p.126) 6 Self-Effacement Revisited
Dying to Know
George Levine
University of Chicago Press

This chapter addresses the “masculinity” or “femininity”to particular modes of thinking and action to be reflections of other writers' views. Women writing about themselves often reaffirm the mythology, but more often make it seem merely silly. The texture of the women's autobiographies tends to be somewhat different from that of the men. The woman's path to male vocation deepens the implications of the dying-to-know narrative. Autobiographies of Mary Somerville, Harriet Martineau, and Beatrice Webb are concerned to avoid making the religious, moral, or social objective determine their scientific knowledge. They had to fulfill the ideals of science as thoroughly as the men and with far more distractions. The irony of women's exclusion from the practice of science in the nineteenth century is intensified by the autobiographies presented.

Keywords:   femininity, masculinity, women writing, Mary Somerville, Harriet Martineau, Beatrice Webb, scientific knowledge, autobiographies

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