Judith Sargent Murray Criticism - Essay

Vena Bernadette Field (essay date 1931)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The 'Gleaner' Essays," in Constantia: A Study of the Life and Works of Judith Sargent Murray, 1751-1820, University Press, 1931, pp. 53-71.

[In the following excerpt, from her full-length biography of Murray, Field provides a summary and overview of the stories, dramas, and essays contained in The Gleaner (1798).]

The Gleaner essays represent Judith Sargent Murray's principal effort in the literary field. Consisting in a long series of papers and letters on religion, politics, manners and customs of the day, they embrace a wide range of subjects and serve as a medium for the expression of their author's opinion. The imaginary writer of the essays...

(The entire section is 6880 words.)

Mary Summer Benson (essay date 1935)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Close of the Century," in Women in Eighteenth-Century America: A Study of Opinion and Social Usage, Columbia University Press, 1935, pp. 175-7.

[In the following excerpt from a study of women in eighteenth-century America, Benson discusses Murray's interest in women's rights.]

. . .Mrs. Judith Sargent Murray under the name "Constantia" produced a number of essays which appeared in the Massachusetts Magazine and other periodicals. The articles in the Massachusetts Magazine were later reprinted in three volumes under the title, The Gleaner, a book dedicated to John Adams.5 The collection, which included two plays and a...

(The entire section is 634 words.)

Walter J. Meserve (essay date 1977)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Meeting the Demands of a Growing Theatre, 1783-1800," in An Emerging Entertainment: The Drama of the American People to 1828, Indiana University Press, 1977, pp. 126-55.

[In this excerpt from a study of early American drama, Meserve outlines Murray's contributions to the development of eighteenth-century theater.]

It is relatively easy to pluck out of any given period of history the names of people who have made outstanding contributions to the drama. Winners become a part of the record books. But just as there are those innumerable details of everyday life which contribute to the creation of greater events, there are those lesser playwrights who help make a...

(The entire section is 1767 words.)

Madelon Cheek (essay date 1985)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "'An Inestimable Prize,' Educating Women in the New Republic: The Writings of Judith Sargent Murray," in Journal of Thought, Vol. XX, No. 3, Fall, 1985, pp. 250-62.

[In the following essay, Cheek analyzes Murray's ideas about the education of women, and argues that Murray's call for expanded roles for women was influential for later feminist thinkers and educational theorists. ]

The revolution in women's education caught fire in America during the formative years of the republic. This movement, which began in England and America prior to 1776, presented a challenge and a hope to a new nation confronted with increased responsibilities. One of its primary...

(The entire section is 5443 words.)

Mary Anne Schofield (essay date 1991)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "'Quitting the Loom and Distaff: Eighteenth Century American Women Dramatists," in Curtain Calls: British and American Women and the Theater, 1660-1820, edited by Mary Anne Schofield and Cecilia Macheski, Ohio University Press, 1991, pp. 260-73.

[In this excerpt, Schofield analyzes Murray's contributions to eighteenth-century drama, as a playwright, critic, and feminist.]

I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
Who says my hand a needle better fits,
A poets [sic] pen all scorn I should thus wrong;
For such despite they cast on female wits,
If what I do prove well, it won't advance—
...

(The entire section is 3641 words.)

Nina Baym (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An Introduction to The Gleaner, by Judith Sargent Murray, Union College Press, 1992, pp. iii-xx.

[In the following essay, Baym provides an overview of Murray's life and an analysis of the writings collected in The Gleaner.]

During the first decade after George Washington's election in 1788, scattered groups of Americans began to think about creating a literature that would demonstrate the new nation's cultural vitality to its own citizens and to Europe. A considerable amount of their writing had been published by 1798, but it had appeared mostly in magazines with short life spans and minuscule budgets. There were, as yet, very few original American books. For...

(The entire section is 7005 words.)

Sharon M. Harris (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An Introduction to the Selected Writings of Judith Sargent Murray, edited by Sharon M. Harris, Oxford University Press, 1995, pp. xv-xliii.

[In the following essay, Harris provides an overview and analysis of Murray's life, works, and contributions to literary and cultural history.]

"I feel the pride of womanhood all up in arms," Judith Sargent Murray declared in a 1777 letter to a female cousin (letter 54).1 Responding to what she termed the "abominable" and "intolerable" arguments against women's education by the French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, she asserted, "For those sentiments, so humiliating to our sex, avowed by Rousseau, I will...

(The entire section is 11050 words.)