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Domesticity with a Difference: The Nonfiction of Catharine Beecher, Sarah J. Hale, Fanny Fern, and Margaret Fuller

Overview

This study of nonfiction written by four of nineteenth century America's first professional women writers investigates the paradoxes posed by the conflict of their texts with their lives. They were not homemakers yet in their works they prescribed ideal domesticity for the women of their day. They were not professional educators, yet they wrote authoritatively about educational theory and practice. They were not involved with organized political agitation for women's rights, yet their writings advanced ...
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Overview

This study of nonfiction written by four of nineteenth century America's first professional women writers investigates the paradoxes posed by the conflict of their texts with their lives. They were not homemakers yet in their works they prescribed ideal domesticity for the women of their day. They were not professional educators, yet they wrote authoritatively about educational theory and practice. They were not involved with organized political agitation for women's rights, yet their writings advanced thoughtful, radical revisions to existing social and political structures, particularly the heterosexual family. Comparable home, school and community backgrounds prepared Catharine Beecher, Sarah Josepha Hale, Fanny Fern, and Margaret Fuller to write for the public. Their nonfiction texts expose the contradictions between what they prescribed for other women and how they themselves chose to live outside the traditional domestic world. Class, race, age, and geography determined the focus of nineteenth-century women's writing, and as Hale, Beecher, Fern, and Fuller promoted and critiqued one another, they profited reciprocally from the others' work, teachings, and examples. As this study shows, by attending to details of womanly behavior such as language, dress, and manners, their writings contributed to altering women's traditional roles in home, school, and community. No previous study has grouped Hale, Beecher, Fern, and Fuller together because each promoted differing political goals. While respecting these differences, this focus on their nonfiction reveals their strong professional links and demonstrates the similar effects of their writings, which prescribed domesticity for the lives of other women while justifying their own professionalism.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
An analysis of the work of four 19th-century women writers. Tonkovich (literature, U. of Calif., San Diego) examines the way each woman deals with issues of race, class, domesticity, educational theory, social and political structures, and the heterosexual family. The biographical circumstances of each woman are also discussed; two of them, by Tonkovich's account, were fatherless daughters and two were their father's "best boy." Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781604738483
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
  • Publication date: 6/1/1997
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Eccentric Domesticity
Ch. 1 Her Father's Best Boy 3
Ch. 2 Fatherless Daughters: Sarah Josepha Hale 26
Ch. 3 Patronymics, Property, and Proper Naming 47
Ch. 4 Domestic Masquerade 72
Ch. 5 The Domestic Manners of American Ladies 91
Ch. 6 Domesticated Eloquence 109
Ch. 7 The Difference Between Authors and Servants 128
Ch. 8 Domesticating Pedagogy 148
Ch. 9 Domesticity with a Difference 173
Notes 204
Bibliography 209
Index 221
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