"Just a Housewife": The Rise and Fall of Domesticity in America

Paperback | April 30, 1999

byGlenna Matthews

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Housewives constitute a large section of the population, yet they have received very little attention, let alone respect. Glenna Matthews, who herself spent many years as "just a housewife" before becoming a scholar of American history, sets out to redress this imbalance. While the male world of work has always received the most respect, Matthews maintains that widespread reverence for the home prevailed in the nineteenth century. The early stages of industrialization made possible a strong tradition of cooking, baking, and sewing that gave women greatsatisfaction and a place in the world. Viewed as the center of republican virtue, the home also played an important religious role. Examining novels, letters, popular magazines, and cookbooks, Matthews seeks to depict what women had and what they have lost in modern times. She argues that theculture of professionalism in the late nineteenth century and the culture of consumption that came to fruition in the 1920s combined to kill off the "cult of domesticity." This important, challenging book sheds new light on a central aspect of human experience: the essential task of providing asociety's nurture and daily maintenance.

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From the Publisher

Housewives constitute a large section of the population, yet they have received very little attention, let alone respect. Glenna Matthews, who herself spent many years as "just a housewife" before becoming a scholar of American history, sets out to redress this imbalance. While the male world of work has always received the m...

From the Jacket

This volume depicts the changing attitudes towards domesticity in this country, from widespread reverence for the home in the nineteenth century to the lack of respect and attention that house-wives have received and continue to receive in this century. Examining novels, letters, popular magazines, and cookbooks, Matthews argues that t...

Glenna Matthews has recently taught at the campuses of the University of California at Berkeley and Davis.

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Kobo ebook|Mar 26 2012

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see all books by Glenna Matthews
Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 7.99 × 5.39 × 0.63 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195059255

ISBN - 13:9780195059250

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"Matthews has done an excellent job of synthesizing recent scholarship on the conditions surrounding the development of domesticity....A provocative book. It may anger some scholars. It will certainly fascinate many. The author has done a fine job of producing a book with a bold argumentthat will keep scholars busy for a while. Matthews is to be commended for her willingness to put forth her ideas about domesticity and gender politics and for her lively use of language."--History of Education Quarterly