Combining the history of ideas with close textual reading, Mary Wollstonecraft's Social and Aesthetic Philosophy examines Mary Wollstone-craft's attempts to revise representations of women to give them a more active role in public life. Bahar insists that Wollstonecraft's political claims cannot be separated from her desire to develop more convincing aesthetic representa-tions of women. Consequently, by steering away from distinctions between the 'public' and the 'private', this study highlights the ambiguous status of the 'public woman', whose very name invokes her sexuality. Against such a connotation, Wollstonecraft proposes a new figure of female virtue. The book also argues that she abandons the conventional sentimental scene of women in distress which invites a 'pity bordering on contempt' and tries to develop an aesthetics of solidarity. Her aesthetic revisions are crucial for acknowledging women's active participation in civic life and for inviting collective action to change the 'oppressed state of [her] sex'.

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