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...its discursiveness, its failure to define

was drawn to Antoinette Brown Blackwell her The Island Neighbors : A novel of American life (1871) by this —

from William R. Leach, discussion of Blackwell in his True Love and Perfect Union : The Feminist Reform of Sex and Society (1980) : 108-111 (borrowable at archive.org)

Blackwell uses “pottering,” not “puttering.” No harm done, though, and new areas open for this (discursive, failure-to-define) project, involving apophony — a variation in vowels where the consonants of a word or syllable remain constant.
pitter patter.
potter putter.

Leach’s book is dismissed by Nancy F. Cott in her review of it (together with Dolores Hayden’s The Grand Domestic Revolution, that fares rather better) for its excessive “discursiveness,” its “discerning if somewhat idiosyncratic grasp of the intellectual and social history of the period,” and above all for Leach’s failure to define “feminism.”
Nancy F. Cott, “The House of Feminism,” in the New York Review of Books (March 17, 1983 issue).

It is this its discursive nature that makes Leach readable (for me) today, 40+ years after its appearance.

12 August 2022