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At Home in Nineteenth-Century AmericaA Documentary History$
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Amy G. Richter

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780814769133

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814769133.001.0001

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The Emergence of the Nineteenth-Century Domestic Ideal

The Emergence of the Nineteenth-Century Domestic Ideal

(p.11) 1 The Emergence of the Nineteenth-Century Domestic Ideal
At Home in Nineteenth-Century America

Amy G. Richter

NYU Press

Chapter 1 explores the relationship between home and a new middle-class moral order emerging in the early decades of the nineteenth century. As men’s labor increasingly moved outside the home, domestic spaces came to be associated with women who were expected to maintain them as bulwarks against the morally suspect, public world of business competition. Within this ideal of separate spheres, women’s domestic labor was recast—less and less depicted as productive labor with economic value and instead described as an extension of inherent femininity. Sources in this chapter include prescriptive literature from Godey’s Lady’s Book and documents by Catharine Beecher, Lydia Maria Child, and Susan Warner considering the relationship between home and femininity. John Angell James and Herman Melville consider the implications of middle-class domesticity for men and their place in the home, and Andrew Jackson Downing describes the relationship between architecture and morality.

Keywords:   morality, femininity, prescriptive literature, Godey’s Lady’s Book, Catharine Beecher, Lydia Maria Child, Susan Warner, John Angell James, Herman Melville, Andrew Jackson Downing

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