Agency for Western Ladies

Agency for Continental Girls is a collection of essays that explore the complex ways that women and young girls construct all their lives across Europe. It employs a range of methodological solutions and new archival material to investigate the interplay between gender, society and the ways that girls manage their daily experiences. The chapters in this volume look at women’s encounters from various cultural, societal and financial perspectives: as mothers and wives; as philanthropists; as writers and artists; and as activists. Despite the vastly different source materials, some key themes unite the contributions as a whole. One is the centrality of a notion of female agency. The authors employ micro-studies of individual cases to reveal how women, despite their legal disabilities because of their gender, could assert considerable agency in the pursuit of their interests.

The articles in this amount emphasize the significance of taking sex into account when describing the premature integration processes in Europe. Maria Pia Di Nonno, for instance, looks at how the girls bulgarian brides in Malta’s Common Assembly and the forerunner of the European Parliament deliberately influenced the connectivity of Europe. In Bernard Capp’s book on Agnes Beaumont, the subject herself wrote a text to demonstrate how disobeying her father was an act of agency in and of itself.

A final input discusses how express socialist children’s organizations in Eastern Europe served as both agents on behalf of women and also prevented their bureau. A closer examination of the structures and political contexts in which these formal organizations operated reveals a more nuanced portrait, the writer suggests, casting doubt on revisionist female scientists’ assertions that they were “agents on behalf of women.”