“Intelligent Souls?” in Eighteenth-Century Fiction

Intelligent Souls?: Feminist Orientalism in Eighteenth-Century English Literature

by Samara Anne Cahill

Intelligent Souls presents a deep historical excavation that challenges the secularist biases undergirding histories of feminism and orientalism. . . . [E]ssential reading for anyone interested in learning how intelligence, civic personhood, and patriarchal norms were reconstituted through a bigoted fallacy about Islam, a fallacy that continues to prop up Western societies as the only enlightened model of gender equality for ‘backward’ non-Western societies to emulate and thereby progress socially. In dismantling this Eurocentric narrative, Cahill has laid the groundwork for an intersectional, anti-racist feminism in our time.”—Humberto Garcia, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, Fall 2022

“Cahill threads a tricky needle admirably: she contextualizes and takes seriously Wollstonecraft’s thinking without letting her Islamophobia off the hook. Wollstonecraft uses Islam as a counterweight to what she sees as the hypocrisy of Englishmen, who treat women as Muslims do without having the religious doctrine as an excuse. Cahill hammers home the political stakes of her argument and narrows in on the longstanding effects that this specific Islamophobic idea has had in the years after the Vindication.”—Angelina Del Balzo, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, Fall 2022