Robert Burns had a complex relationship with the women in his life. He wrote legendary love poetry, engaged in spirited intellectual dialogue with female thinkers, and damaged the opportunity and social mobility of some women by his privileged approach to intimate relationships. This pop-up exhibition, designed to accompany The Rosenbach’s Burns Night 2020 celebrations, places Burns’s satirical poem “The Rights of Woman” of 1792 in conversation with two other literary and philosophical works published the same year: Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man, Part the Second and Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. By examining these touchstone literary and scholarly achievements of the Enlightenment, and by analyzing Burns’s correspondence with noted poet and social activist
Helen Maria Williams, The Rights of Woman examines the transformational power of the Enlightenment’s promise of human dignity and universal rights.
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