Introduction: Gender and Scottish Enlightenment Culture

Carr, Rosalind (2014)
University of Edinburgh Press
This introduction situates Scotland's Enlightenment in a wider European framework. Concepts of appropriate masculinity and femininity were central features of Scottish Enlightenment discourses of luxury and refinement, and the dominant gender identities that emerged were the polite, refined gentleman motivated by an inner sensibility, and the emotional woman governed by modesty. These were not the only identities available to men and women of eighteenth-century Scotland, but they determined the socially dominant public gender performance among the urban elite. Yet, as the book will show, the exact boundaries of these identities (especially for men) were fluid. Improvement was the unifying thread that held the Enlightenment together, and that enables us to see it as a coherent epistemological and social development. However, in neither thought nor culture was it uniform.

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