The Legacy of Mary Wollstonecraft

Ref: C2341005

Mary Wollstonecraft's 'A Vindication of the Rights of Woman', like its author, is controversial, vivid and compelling, The course will look closely at her life and times, but above all at her words and the effect they have had on subsequent writers like Jane Austen, Wollstonecraft's daughter Mary Shelley, a range of Victorian novelists, Virginia Woolf, and influential feminist writers today. There will be room for plenty of debate and for students to nominate and defend their own choice of great feminist thinkers, both female and male.

Course aim

Mary Wollstonecraft's 'A Vindication of the Rights of Woman' established her as the founder of modern feminism. How have her ideas been followed, interpreted, and developed in the years since her death in 1797?

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Outline the arguments put forward by Mary Wollstonecraft in 'A Vindication of the Rights of Woman'.
  • Discuss the context of this text including how these arguments were received after Mary Wollstonecraft's death.
  • State the contribution made to Mary Wollstonecraft's legacy by at least two writers on equality since her time.
  • (Optional) Choose a thinker whom you admire (male or female, past or present) as being part of Mary Wollstonecraft's legacy, and present a short account to the class.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • There is a huge range of relevant literature, but the following will be discussed in addition to the 'Vindication'; Mary Shelley, 'Frankenstein'; Mary Taylor, 'Miss Miles', Virginia Woolf, 'A Room of One's Own'; Mary Beard, 'Women and Power'.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • See above under "What else do I need to know?"

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information

Download full course information sheet

The Legacy of Mary Wollstonecraft


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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