Beyond the Household: Women's Place in the Early South, 1700-1835

Beyond the Household: Women's Place in the Early South, 1700-1835

by Cynthia A. Kierner
     
 
Much has been written about the "southern lady," that pervasive and enduring icon of antebellum regional identity. But how did the lady get on her pedestal—and were the lives of white southern women always so different from those of their northern contemporaries? In her ambitious new book, Cynthia A. Kierner charts the evolution of the lives of white southern

Overview

Much has been written about the "southern lady," that pervasive and enduring icon of antebellum regional identity. But how did the lady get on her pedestal—and were the lives of white southern women always so different from those of their northern contemporaries? In her ambitious new book, Cynthia A. Kierner charts the evolution of the lives of white southern women through the colonial, revolutionary, and early republican eras. Using the lady on her pedestal as the end—rather than the beginning—of her story, she shows how gentility, republican political ideals, and evangelical religion successively altered southern gender ideals and thereby forced women to reshape their public roles. Kierner concludes that southern women continually renegotiated their access to the public sphere—and that even the emergence of the frail and submissive lady as icon did not obliterate women's public role.Kierner draws on a strong overall command of early American and women's history and adds to it research in letters, diaries, newspapers, secular and religious periodicals, travelers' accounts, etiquette manuals, and cookery books. Focusing on the issues of work, education, and access to the public sphere, she explores the evolution of southern gender ideals in an important transitional era. Specifically, she asks what kinds of changes occurred in women's relation to the public sphere from 1700 to 1835. In answering this major question, she makes important links and comparisons, across both time and region, and creates a chronology of social and intellectual change that addresses many key questions in the history of women, the South, and early America.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Sacred Bond: Black Men and their Mothers, Keith M. Brown has gathered 35 interviews with black men on a subject close to their hearts. Accompanying b&w photos by Adger W. Cowans, these short pieces become meditations on motherhood but also on the challenges of raising a black man in America. Author tour. (Little, Brown, $25 288p ISBN 0-316-10556-2; Nov.) According to editor Henry Jenkins, The Children's Culture Reader "is intended both to explore what the figure of the child means to adults and to offer a more complex account of children's own cultural lives." He has compiled a selection of essays by the likes of Philippe Aries, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Henry Giroux, Martha Wolfenstein and Lynn Spiegel to analyze "how our culture defines what it means to be a child, how adult institutions impact on children's lives, and how children construct their cultural and social identities." (New York Univ., $75 500p ISBN 0-8147-4231-9; paper $24.95, -4232-7; Nov.) Cynthia A. Kierner debunks the myth of the delicate flower of Southern womanhood in Beyond the Household: Women's Place in the Early South, 1700-1835. From the earliest settlements onward, Southern women worked hard and long to provide the underpinnings of life in a new land. Examining the influence of slavery, religion and the dominance of the ideals of republican politics and of gentility, Kierner shows how these women were kept in their place for more than a hundred years. 22 b&w photos. (Cornell Univ., $49.95 304p ISBN 0-8014-3453-X; paper $17.95 -8462-6; Nov.)
From the Publisher
"Kierner debunks the myth of the delicate flower of Southern womanhood."—Publishers Weekly

"This study will be a useful resource for general courses on southern history. The richest new material appears in its chapters on women's wartime political correspondence and their postwar participation in public celebrations."—Choice

"Historians of southern women have always had to confront the image of the 'southern lady' that permeates the field of American history like recalcitrant mildew. No matter how often they assert the existence of real women whose lives were nothing like that of the mythic lady, her shadowy self continues to reappear—despite the repainting provided by countless scholars and their detailed studies of southern women. Cynthia A Kierner synthesizes much of this recent scholarship to provide a useful and accessible study of real women and their lives in those areas with the largest populations, the most complex societies, many of the oldest settlements, the best-kept historical collections, and the most readily available sources: Virginia and the Carolinas."—American Historical Review. April, 2000

"Subtle and sophisticated . . . it bridges a gap between some of the best new scholarship on women in the colonial period and on women in the nineteenth century."—Virginia Libraries

"Students and scholars of women's history will appreciate the important connections Kierner makes between southern and northern women and the impact of social and intellectual changes in southern women's lives."—Diane C. Vecchio, Furman University, The North Carolina Historical Review. October, 1999.

"A richly textured study . . ."—Christie Anne Farnham, Iowa State University, The Journal of American History. December, 1999.

"A well-written, impressively researched revisionist account of women's roles in the early South which documents how women in diverse ways both accepted and moved beyond gender ideals and helped shape the evolving public sphere. The book is filled with insightful comparative connections across time and space and merits the close attention of historians of women and the South in general."—John B. Boles, Rice University

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801434532
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
09/24/1998
Series:
4/18/2002
Pages:
295
Product dimensions:
6.27(w) x 9.27(h) x 0.99(d)
Lexile:
1720L (what's this?)

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