The Mirror of Antiquity: American Women and the Classical Tradition, 1750-1900 by Caroline WintererThe Mirror of Antiquity: American Women and the Classical Tradition, 1750-1900 by Caroline Winterer

The Mirror of Antiquity: American Women and the Classical Tradition, 1750-1900

byCaroline Winterer

Paperback | October 29, 2009

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In The Mirror of Antiquity, Caroline Winterer uncovers the lost world of American women's classicism during its glory days from the eighteenth through the nineteenth centuries. Overturning the widely held belief that classical learning and political ideals were relevant only to men, she follows the lives of four generations of American women through their diaries, letters, books, needlework, and drawings, demonstrating how classicism was at the center of their experience as mothers, daughters, and wives. Importantly, she pays equal attention to women from the North and from the South, and to the ways that classicism shaped the lives of black women in slavery and freedom.In a strikingly innovative use of both texts and material culture, Winterer exposes the neoclassical world of furnishings, art, and fashion created in part through networks dominated by elite women. Many of these women were at the center of the national experience. Here readers will find Abigail Adams, teaching her children Latin and signing her letters as Portia, the wife of the Roman senator Brutus; the Massachusetts slave Phillis Wheatley, writing poems in imitation of her favorite books, Alexander Pope's Iliad and Odyssey; Dolley Madison, giving advice on Greek taste and style to the U.S. Capitol's architect, Benjamin Latrobe; and the abolitionist and feminist Lydia Maria Child, who showed Americans that modern slavery had its roots in the slave societies of Greece and Rome. Thoroughly embedded in the major ideas and events of the time—the American Revolution, slavery and abolitionism, the rise of a consumer society—this original book is a major contribution to American cultural and intellectual history.

Caroline Winterer is Associate Professor of History at Stanford University. She is the author of The Culture of Classicism: Ancient Greece and Rome in American Intellectual Life, 1780–1910.
Title:The Mirror of Antiquity: American Women and the Classical Tradition, 1750-1900Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.54 inPublished:October 29, 2009Publisher:Cornell University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801475791

ISBN - 13:9780801475795

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Editorial Reviews

"This charming book reminds us once again how protean is the legacy of classicism. It focuses on American women in the period spanning the huge upheavals of the War for Independence and the Civil War, and shows in vivid cameos how classical models provided an arena of both possibility and circumscription for women in all walks of life—from drawing rooms to slave quarters. The classics served as an ideological Trojan horse, enabling discourse on women's rights as readily as a justification of slaveholding. And the very haphazardness of women's classical education led to extraordinary creative eclecticism. Here are many enticing glimpses through the back door of history, from the inspiration of the 'sable Muse,' Phillis Wheatley, to the surprising significance of the 'sopha.' The Mirror of Antiquity is a nuanced, complex, and engagingly narrated work." - Catherine Conybeare, Bryn Mawr College