This article charts the rise of Mary Wollstonecraft as a international feminist meme in 1890s Britain, Germany, and the United States as a result of the centennial markers of her 1792 Rights of Woman and 1797 death. To this end, we conduct a comparative rhetorical and ideological study of the symbolic political uses of Wollstonecraft by four leaders of women’s movements at the turn of the twentieth century: Millicent Fawcett of Britain, Bertha Pappenheim and Lily Braun of Germany, and Carrie Chapman Catt of the United States. We trace the emergence of two dominant feminist memes of Wollstonecraft between 1890 and 1941: the womanly women’s rights advocate and the feminist pioneer. With their mimetic makeovers of Wollstonecraft, feminist leaders and activists exploited intersections of race, class, gender, and nation to build the authority, appeal, and sense of history and purpose of their movements.


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pp. 13-38
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