Marriage, Property, and Women's Narratives

Marriage, Property, and Women's Narratives

by S. Livingston

Paperback(1st ed. 2012)

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An interdisciplinary approach to the study of women and property, combining literature, history, and economics. By looking at women's marriage narratives over a long period of time, the book reveals the deep discontent with the institution of property ownership as a unifying thread from the Middle Ages up through the twentieth-century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781349296378
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan US
Publication date: 12/10/2015
Series: The New Middle Ages
Edition description: 1st ed. 2012
Pages: 226
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x (d)

About the Author

Sally A. Livingston is Assistant Professor of Humanities-Classics at Ohio Wesleyan University, USA.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii

A Note on Transliteration xv

Introduction: Silence and Women's Authority 1

1 Property's History, Property's Literature 7

2 Silence, Language, Sexuality 19

3 Medieval Women Reject Marriage: Heloise and Marie de France 35

4 Sexual Purity as Property: Vie Seinte Audree and The Book of Margery Kempe 63

5 Property and Propriety in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-century England: Burney, Austen, Eliot 75

6 Virginia Woolfs Women, Trapped and Freed 99

7 Mid-nineteenth-century Russia: Women Writers Reject the Marriage Plot 121

Conclusion: Why are Women Poor? 159

Notes 163

Bibliography 195

Index 215

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

'Livingston traces economic metaphors in women's writing to reveal that the marriage plot was most often deployed in literature when legal restrictions curtailed women's control of money, inheritance, and property. In investigating the work of English, French, and Russian authors from the twelfth through the twentieth centuries, Livingston provides a comparative, feminist analysis to demonstrate that women writers produced fantastical narratives of women's empowerment while living in milieux that afforded them little economic control. By contrast, she shows that where women retained the right to administer their own property, female writers focused their narratives more on women's agency, often illustrating a female protagonist's rejection of marriage and continued independence from patriarchal controls. A wide-ranging discussion that illustrates the effects of lived experience on women's narratives." - Virginia Blanton, associate professor and Chair, Department of English, University of Missouri-Kansas City

"One of the very important consequences of Livingston's research is that it compels us to shift our understanding of how women historically might have viewed themselves. She argues convincingly that if women were property and owned property, then part of the definition of themselves must perforce include comprehending themselves as property, as resource, as domain. Even more intriguing is the necessary subsequent question: if we accept this shift in our understanding, how will this affect our theories and perception of marriage as a theme in women's literature?" - M. C. Bodden, associate professor of English, Marquette University

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