Women And Domestic Experience In Victorian Political Fiction

Women And Domestic Experience In Victorian Political Fiction

by Susan Johnston
     
 

Recent revisions of the idea of separate spheres, which governed Victorian scholarship of the past two decades, have provoked considerable interest in both domestic and political fiction of the period and in the political dimensions of domestic life. This book challenges arguments about the division of the political from other fictional genres and divisions of the

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Overview

Recent revisions of the idea of separate spheres, which governed Victorian scholarship of the past two decades, have provoked considerable interest in both domestic and political fiction of the period and in the political dimensions of domestic life. This book challenges arguments about the division of the political from other fictional genres and divisions of the private from the public sphere. It shows that Victorian literature identified the household as the space in which the political rights-bearer came into being. While some thinkers maintained that the rights-bearer is defined by purely formal reasoning, this volume claims that Locke and other educational writers conceived reason as embodying emotion. It looks at works by Mary Wollstonecraft, Amelia Opie, Maria Edgeworth, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Charles Dickens to reveal how the emotional relations of the household shaped the political self and how women gained identity as rights-bearers.

The book argues that the intimate space of the household does not exist separately from public, political, and economic domains. It revises generic understandings of political fiction and shows that domestic plots are integral to political plots. This is so because domestic fiction focuses on the cultivation of the liberal self in the household and the disclosure of that self in terms of its vision of the good. The volume concludes that domestic space is the foundation of liberal polity, and that an account of the household in which the liberal self is disclosed is at the heart of both Victorian political fiction and philosophy.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Johnston (English, U. of Regina) challenges assertions about the division of the political from other fictional genres and the private from the public sphere, reformulating the place of the household in the liberal polity. From Wollstonecraft to Dickens, she examines political and domestic fiction to find a common concern with the preconditions of liberal selfhood, and to show that liberalism identifies the household as the primary space in which the bearer of political rights comes into being. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780313316340
Publisher:
ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date:
02/28/2001
Series:
Contributions in Women's Studies Series
Pages:
194
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.56(d)

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