Heller’s Bluestocking Salons and the Public Sphere

In Bluestocking Salons and the Public Sphere, Dr. Heller describes the development of the bluestocking salons in England. They were inspired by salons first established in France, but the English nevertheless aimed to develop their own intellectual movement. Well off women hosted these salons in their homes, and women both hosted and engaged in intellectual debates in the salons. These salons helped shape the intellectual climate of that society by allowing men and women to engage in arguments in one place, as equals.

Elizabeth Montagu felt that women and men should be treated as equals. As a result, she was often criticized as being masculine, or not feminine enough. Unfortunately, even today, this is a common accusation made against women who are not afraid to speak their mind. Women are expected to be demure, quiet and unimposing and these expectations make it very difficult for a woman to argue loudly and convincingly.

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