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Desire and Domestic Fiction : A Political History of the Novel - Nancy Armstrong

Desire and Domestic Fiction

A Political History of the Novel

Paperback

Published: 22nd February 1990
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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 BrontAs, 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.

"A very interesting look at the relationship between our political system and the novel--it should prove to be a springboard for class discussion."--Robert W. Langran, Villanova University "The provocative thesis Armstrong develops challenges traditional descriptions of the rise of the novel by locating the essential force of the 18th century's new fiction in the domestic novel depicting the household as a center of female power....A genuine contribution to the growing shelf of feminist criticism."--Choice "A work of considerable intelligence and insight."--South Atlantic Review "This is the first book-length study to bring the insights of Michel Foucault to bear upon the subject of women and literature, and the resulting innovations are important and salutary....Her book provides a challenging revision of the history of the novel. Moreover, it entirely reassesses the roles played by both novels and women in the making of modern culture."--Victorian Studies "A bold and original book....It is nothing less than a radical reinterpretation of the rise of the novel in England which simultaneously overturns...not only the established view issuing from Ian Watt, but also recently entrenched feminist readings.... It is a work with a powerful thesis and will have to be reckoned with by anyone concerned with feminism, the theory of fiction, or the rise to hegemony of the English middle class."--Allon White, University of Sussex "A very interesting look at the relationship between our political system and the novel--it should prove to be a springboard for class discussion."--Robert W. Langran, Villanova University "The provocative thesis Armstrong develops challenges traditional descriptions of the rise of the novel by locating the essential force of the 18th century's new fiction in the domestic novel depicting the household as a center of female power....A genuine contribution to the growing shelf of feminist criticism."--Choice "A work of considerable intelligence and insight."--South Atlantic Review "This is the first book-length study to bring the insights of Michel Foucault to bear upon the subject of women and literature, and the resulting innovations are important and salutary....Her book provides a challenging revision of the history of the novel. Moreover, it entirely reassesses the roles played by both novels and women in the making of modern culture."--Victorian Studies "A bold and original book....It is nothing less than a radical reinterpretation of the rise of the novel in England which simultaneously overturns...not only the established view issuing from Ian Watt, but also recently entrenched feminist readings.... It is a work with a powerful thesis and will have to be reckoned with by anyone concerned with feminism, the theory of fiction, or the rise to hegemony of the English middle class."--Allon White, University of Sussex "Armstrong strips away the literary aestheticism that has worked to deny fiction's power to shape the social order. Desire and Domestic Fiction brilliantly shows how the boundary between public and private life (the male and female spheres) is established and enforced not by external rules but by processes structural to the modern middle-class family and its methods of training, education, and socialization--including the reading and writing of novels."--John Bender, Stanford University "An innovative work which offers many bold assertions about the rise of the novel and the role it played in establishing modern forms of subjectivity....The study bravely enters into the difficult task of charting the complex interconnections and determinants between material social history and that of subjectivity."--The Eighteenth Century "[A] very interesting look at the relationship between our political system and the novel."--Robert W. Langran, Villanova University

Introduction: The Politics of Domesticating Culture, Then and Nowp. 3
The Rise of Female Authority in the Novelp. 28
The Logic of the Social Contract
The Logic of the Sexual Contract
The Sexual Contract as Narrative Paradigm
The Sexual Contract as Narrative Process
The Rise of the Domestic Womanp. 59
The Book of Class Sexuality
A Country House That is Not a Country House
Labor That is Not Labor
Economy That is Not Money
The Power of Feminization
The Rise of the Novelp. 96
The Battle of the Books
Strategies of Self-Production: Pamela
The Self Contained: Emma
History in the House of Culturep. 161
The Rhetoric of Violence: 1819
The Rhetoric of Disorder: 1832
The Politics of Domestic Fiction: 1848
Figures of Desire: The Brontes
Seduction and the Scene of Readingp. 203
The Woman's Museum: Jane Eyre
Modern Men: Shirley and the Fuegians
Modern Women: Dora and Mrs. Brown
Epiloguep. 251
Notesp. 261
Indexp. 291
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195061604
ISBN-10: 0195061608
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 22nd February 1990
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.59 x 14.02  x 1.96
Weight (kg): 0.38