Anni Sairio University of Helsinki “A learned woman’s warfare: Social identity in eighteenth-century anonymous satire.”
This paper explores constructions of social identity in eighteenth-century dialogues written by the bluestocking Elizabeth Montagu (1718-1800). These three satirical dialogues are set in the Underworld between mythological figures and contemporary type characters, and they were included in Lord Lyttelton’s anonymously published The Dialogues of the Dead (1760). Social identity constructions in these texts are analysed through stance-taking, specifically in terms of evaluation and the identification of social values. Montagu’s satires are instructional and judgmental, and the social values advocated through the voices of her characters are assumed to represent the author’s own social identity and the values of the bluestocking circle. Through her judgment of the empty lives of fashionable women, entertainment-driven readers and the capitalist greed of the publishing industry, Montagu promotes the virtues of learning, morality, duty and self‑discipline. Social values function as identity markers of her moral and rational mind.