Hayden takes our conventional understanding of the relationship between nineteenth-century feminism and science and expands it. The author provides examples of the powerful words of free-love feminists to show exactly how these exceptional women used science as a rhetorical platform to promote feminist, and often radical, social reforms.
Considering why the free-love movement has not yet been studied, Hayden also discusses how the recovery of this movement may impact larger goals in the recovery of women’s rhetoric. This important and timely study of a long-forgotten movement adds to our understanding of the complexities of the history of feminism.
Wendy Hayden is an assistant professor of English at Hunter College, CUNY, and has published an essay on feminist rhetoric and evolutionary theory in Rhetoric Review.