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Domestic fiction (1830 - 1860)
Related: novel - women's fiction - American literature - 1800s Literature - sentimental novel - Romanticism
[American] Women's fiction is said to have originated in the middle of the nineteenth century and was referred to as “sentimental fiction” or “domestic fiction”. The genre began with Catharine Sedgwick's New-England Tale (1822). “In their reliance on the inherent goodness of human nature and the power of feelings as a guide to right conduct, these novel were in part a reaction against Calvinistic doctrines that viewed humanity as inherently depraved.” Donna M. Campbell, "Domestic or Sentimental Fiction, 1830-1860.
Sometimes referred to as "sentimental fiction" or "woman's fiction," "domestic fiction" refers to a type of novel popular with women readers during the middle of the nineteenth century. The genre began with Catharine Sedgwick's New-England Tale (1822) and remained a dominant fictional type until after 1870. It derives in part from the eighteenth-century "sentimental novel" or "novel of sensibility," of which Henry Mackenzie's The Man of Feeling (1771), Oliver Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), and one of the earliest American novels, The Power of Sympathy (1789), written by William Hill Brown but ascribed circa 1860 to Sarah Wentworth Morton (Feminist Companion to Literature in English 766), are examples. In their reliance on the inherent goodness of human nature and the power of feelings as a guide to right conduct, these novels were in part a reaction against Calvinistic doctrines that viewed humanity as inherently depraved. --http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/domestic.htm [Aug 2006]
Desire and Domestic Fiction : A Political History of the Novel (1987) - Nancy Armstrong
Desire and Domestic Fiction : A Political History of the Novel (1987) - Nancy Armstrong [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
From Library Journal
Armstrong argues for a causal relationship between the appearance of domestic fiction and the rise of the middle class in 18th- and 19th-century England. As the female-dominated home became the respite from harsh economic realities, powerful middle-class values eventually obliterated those of the aristocracy and the working class. By this time women were achieving power because of, not in spite of, their gender. Rereading Richardson, Fielding, Austen, the Brontes, Eliot, Dickens, and Shelley, among others, and drawing on Marx, Freud, economics, semiotics, and popular culture, Armstrong offers a complicated scholarly feminist view of literary history just when you thought this burgeoning academic industry was running out of steam. For academic libraries. Rhoda Yerburgh, Adult Degree Program, Vermont Coll., Montpelier Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Desire and Domestic Fiction argues that far from being removed from historical events, novels by writers from Richardson to Woolf were themselves agents of the rise of the middle class. Drawing on texts that range from 18th-century female conduct books and contract theory to modern psychoanalytic case histories and theories of reading, Armstrong shows that the emergence of a particular form of female subjectivity capable of reigning over the household paved the way for the establishment of institutions which today are accepted centers of political power. Neither passive subjects nor embattled rebels, the middle-class women who were authors and subjects of the major tradition of British fiction were among the forgers of a new form of power that worked in, and through, their writing to replace prevailing notions of "identity" with a gender-determined subjectivity. Examining the works of such novelists as Samuel Richardson, Jane Austen, and the Brontes, she reveals the ways in which these authors rewrite the domestic practices and sexual relations of the past to create the historical context through which modern institutional power would seem not only natural but also humane, and therefore to be desired. --via Amazon.com
See also: sentimental novel - novel - desire - 1800s literature
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