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Separated by Their SexWomen in Public and Private in the Colonial Atlantic World$
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Mary Beth Norton

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449499

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449499.001.0001

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John Dunton and the Invention of the Feminine Private

John Dunton and the Invention of the Feminine Private

(p.76) Chapter 3 John Dunton and the Invention of the Feminine Private
Separated by Their Sex

Mary Beth Norton

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines how John Dunton, editor and publisher of the Athenian Mercury, and his colleagues advanced the notion of the feminine private sphere in the 1690s. The Athenian Mercury filled a unique niche in the late seventeenth century, a time of political turmoil and cultural transition. Traditional notions of gendered identities were in flux, necessitating a reconceptualization of male and female roles. After the turn of the century, that reconceptualization was supplied by Dunton explicitly. This chapter first provides a background on the Athenian Mercury before discussing Dunton's decision to open the pages of his publication to inquiries from women amid complaints from some male readers. It then considers the questions and answers on gendered topics that appeared in the Athenian Mercury and how Dunton addressed the public/private distinction with regard to women's sphere.

Keywords:   women, John Dunton, Athenian Mercury, private sphere, gender, public/private distinction, women's sphere, male readers

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