The Angel out of the House: Philanthropy and Gender in Nineteenth-Century England [NOOK Book]

Overview

Was nineteenth-century British philanthropy the "truest and noblest woman’s work" and praiseworthy for having raised the nation’s moral tone, or was it a dangerous mission likely to cause the defeminization of its practitioners as they became "public persons"? In Victorian England, women’s participation in volunteer work seemed to be a natural extension of their domestic role, but like many other assumptions about gender roles, the connection between charitable and domestic work is the result of specific ...

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The Angel out of the House: Philanthropy and Gender in Nineteenth-Century England

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Overview

Was nineteenth-century British philanthropy the "truest and noblest woman’s work" and praiseworthy for having raised the nation’s moral tone, or was it a dangerous mission likely to cause the defeminization of its practitioners as they became "public persons"? In Victorian England, women’s participation in volunteer work seemed to be a natural extension of their domestic role, but like many other assumptions about gender roles, the connection between charitable and domestic work is the result of specific historical factors and cultural representations. Proponents of women as charitable workers encouraged philanthropy as being ideal work for a woman, while opponents feared the practice was destined to lead to overly ambitious and manly behavior.

In The Angel out of the House Dorice Williams Elliott examines the ways in which novels and other texts that portrayed women performing charitable acts helped to make the inclusion of philanthropic work in the domestic sphere seem natural and obvious. And although many scholars have dismissed women’s volunteer endeavors as merely patriarchal collusion, Elliott argues that the conjunction of novelistic and philanthropic discourse in the works of women writers—among them George Eliot and Elizabeth Gaskell, Hannah More and Anna Jameson—was crucial to the redefinition of gender roles and class relations.

In a fascinating study of how literary works contribute to cultural and historical change, Elliott’s exploration of philanthropic discourse in nineteenth-century literature demonstrates just how essential that forum was in changing accepted definitions of women and social relations.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Elliott (English, U. of Kansas) examines how novels and other literary texts portray women in the middle and upper classes taking an active part in endeavors that were perceived to have important social, economic, and political consequences. Such works, she says, helped produce and authorize women's desires to participate in such endeavors. Her study began as a doctoral dissertation for Johns Hopkins University. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813922010
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2002
  • Series: Victorian Literature and Culture Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 270
  • File size: 335 KB

Meet the Author

Dorice Williams Elliott is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Kansas.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 "An Assured Asylum against Every Evil": Sarah Scott's Millenium Hall and Mid-Eighteenth-Century Philanthropic Institutions for Women 33
2 "The Care of the Poor Is Her Profession": Hannah More and Naturalizing Women's Philanthropic Work 54
3 Hannah More's Heirs: Women Philanthropists and the Challenge of Political Economy 81
4 "The Communion of Labor" and Lectures to Ladies: A Midcentury Contest between Male Professionals and Female Philanthropists 111
5 The Female Visitor and the Marriage of Classes in Elizabeth Gaskell's: North and South 135
6 Educating Women's Desires: The Philanthropic Heroine in the 1860s 159
7 George Eliot's Middlemarch: The Failure of the Philanthropic Heroine 189
Conclusion 216
Notes 223
Bibliography 247
Index 261
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