Care: For Wollstonecraft

"Care: For Wollstonecraft" situates the feminist legacy of Wollstonecraft’s life works in contemporary discourses and practices of care in order to foreground the still-radical implications of her concepts of mothering, women’s writing, and passional activism. Fictional works frame her critiques of marriage within the broad context of care, both for impoverished communities and against the social institutions that diminish especially women’s capacities to care. Nonfictional and fictional works posit the linkage between women’s writing and good mothering as the chief vehicle of psychosocial reform, one that, in textualizing the biological and personalizing the sociopolitical, greatly expands notions of what a mother is and what good-enough mothering entails. At the same time, the essay argues that caring for Wollstonecraft involves confronting the severe hazards that this linkage created for Wollstonecraft and her progeny as a way of underscoring both why care is neither a safe topic nor a safe practice and why Wollstonecraft’s feminism is not as heteronormative or bourgeois as frequently is alleged.