Extreme Domesticity: A View from the Margins

Hardcover | January 10, 2017

bySusan Fraiman

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Domesticity gets a bad rap. We associate it with stasis, bourgeois accumulation, banality, and conservative family values. Yet in Extreme Domesticity, Susan Fraiman reminds us that keeping house is just as likely to involve dislocation, economic insecurity, creative improvisation, and queered notions of family. Her book links terms often seen as antithetical: domestic knowledge coinciding with female masculinity, feminism, and divorce; domestic routines elaborated in the context of Victorian poverty, twentieth-century immigration, and new millennial homelessness. Far from being exclusively middle-class, domestic concerns are shown to be all the more urgent and ongoing when shelter is precarious.

Fraiman's reformulation frees domesticity from associations with conformity and sentimentality. Ranging across periods and genres, and diversifying the archive of domestic depictions, Fraiman's readings include novels by Elizabeth Gaskell, Sandra Cisneros, Jamaica Kincaid, Leslie Feinberg, and Lois-Ann Yamanaka; Edith Wharton's classic decorating guide; popular women's magazines; and ethnographic studies of homeless subcultures. Recognizing the labor and know-how needed to produce the space we call "home," Extreme Domesticity vindicates domestic practices and appreciates their centrality to everyday life. At the same time, it remains well aware of domesticity's dark side. Neither a romance of artisanal housewifery nor an apology for conservative notions of home, Extreme Domesticity stresses the heterogeneity of households and probes the multiplicity of domestic meanings.

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From the Publisher

Domesticity gets a bad rap. We associate it with stasis, bourgeois accumulation, banality, and conservative family values. Yet in Extreme Domesticity, Susan Fraiman reminds us that keeping house is just as likely to involve dislocation, economic insecurity, creative improvisation, and queered notions of family. Her book links terms of...

Susan Fraiman is professor of English at the University of Virginia. Her Columbia University Press publications include Cool Men and the Second Sex (2003) and Unbecoming Women: British Women Writers and the Novel of Development (1994).

other books by Susan Fraiman

Cool Men and the Second Sex
Cool Men and the Second Sex

Kobo ebook|Jun 19 2012

$31.99

Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:January 10, 2017Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231166346

ISBN - 13:9780231166348

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Doing Domesticity1. Shelter Writing: Desperate Housekeeping from Crusoe to Queer Eye2. Behind the Curtain: Domestic Industry in Mary Barton3. Domesticity Beyond Sentiment: Edith Wharton, Decoration, and Divorce4. Bad Girls of Good Housekeeping: Dominique Browning and Martha Stewart5. Undocumented Houses: Histories of Dislocation in Immigrant Fiction6. Domesticity in Extremis: Homemaking by the UnshelteredConclusion: Dwelling-in-TravelingNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Extreme Domesticity is a startlingly original work that not only offers a contemporary updating of feminist studies on domestic and sentimental fiction, but also establishes provocative new frameworks for understanding modern gender formations. A brilliant and important book!