By Gillian Brown
Gillian Brown's booklet probes the main courting among family ideology and formulations of the self in nineteenth-century the United States. Arguing that domesticity institutes gender, type, and racial differences that govern masculine in addition to female id, Brown brilliantly alters, for literary critics, feminists, and cultural historians, the serious standpoint from which nineteenth-century American literature and tradition were viewed.In this learn of the household structure of individualism, Brown lines how the values of interiority, order, privateness, and enclosure linked to the yank domestic come to outline selfhood often. via reading writings via Stowe, Hawthorne, Melville, Fern, and Gilman, and through studying different modern cultural modes--abolitionism, consumerism, structure, inside adorning, motherhood, mesmerism, hysteria, and agoraphobia--she reconfigures the parameters of either domesticity and the styles of self it models. Unfolding a representational background of the family, Brown's paintings bargains impressive new readings of the literary texts in addition to of the cultural contexts that they embrace.
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Extra info for Domestic individualism: imagining self in nineteenth-century America
27 While Stowe also propounds the feminist-abolitionist critique of domesticity and slavery, she does not reject Christian self-sacrifice as an effective reformist mode. Because Stowe regards self-denial as political, she celebrates in the deaths of Little Eva and Uncle Tom the very self-abnegation Stanton and Coleman denounce. " 28 This notion of femininity as maternal, literary, political, and mystical conjoins domestic and feminist values, incorporating both self-denial and self-assertion in the ideal woman.
While the slave economy does not threaten American mothers with selling their children, it does limit their authority and efficacy when it creates households with "no time, no place, no order" (1: 304). " Instead of hurryscurryation, "the air of order and stillness, of perpetuity and unchanging repose," characterizes the model American home (1: 226). " Dinah's shiftlessness, because it is indifferent to the carefulness and regulation necessary to the integrity of the home, appears "the sum of all evils" (1: 229).
To Americans "is committed the grand, the responsible privilege, of exhibiting to the world, the beneficent influences of Christianity, when carried into every social, civil, and political institution''; and "then to American women, more than any others on earth, is committed the exalted privilege of extending over the world those blessed influences, that are to renovate degraded man, and clothe all climes with beauty" (Treatise, 12-13). The manifest destiny of American women to domesticate and Christianize the world can be realized through the work they perform in their homes.
Domestic individualism: imagining self in nineteenth-century America by Gillian Brown