Separated by Their Sex: Women in Public and Private in the Colonial Atlantic World by Mary Beth NortonSeparated by Their Sex: Women in Public and Private in the Colonial Atlantic World by Mary Beth Norton

Separated by Their Sex: Women in Public and Private in the Colonial Atlantic World

byMary Beth Norton

Paperback | December 8, 2014

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In Separated by Their Sex, Mary Beth Norton offers a bold genealogy that shows how gender came to determine the right of access to the Anglo-American public sphere by the middle of the eighteenth century. Earlier, high-status men and women alike had been recognized as appropriate political actors, as exemplified during and after Bacon's Rebellion by the actions of—and reactions to—Lady Frances Berkeley, wife of Virginia's governor. By contrast, when the first ordinary English women to claim a political voice directed group petitions to Parliament during the Civil War of the 1640s, men relentlessly criticized and parodied their efforts. Even so, as late as 1690 Anglo-American women's political interests and opinions were publicly acknowledged.

Norton traces the profound shift in attitudes toward women’s participation in public affairs to the age’s cultural arbiters, including John Dunton, editor of the Athenian Mercury, a popular 1690s periodical that promoted women’s links to husband, family, and household. Fittingly, Dunton was the first author known to apply the word "private" to women and their domestic lives. Subsequently, the immensely influential authors Richard Steele and Joseph Addison (in the Tatler and the Spectator) advanced the notion that women’s participation in politics—even in political dialogues—was absurd. They and many imitators on both sides of the Atlantic argued that women should confine themselves to home and family, a position that American women themselves had adopted by the 1760s. Colonial women incorporated the novel ideas into their self-conceptions; during such "private" activities as sitting around a table drinking tea, they worked to define their own lives. On the cusp of the American Revolution, Norton concludes, a newly gendered public-private division was firmly in place.

Mary Beth Norton is Mary Donlon Alger Professor of History at Cornell University. She is the author of many books, including Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750–1800, also from Cornell; In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692; and Founding Mothers & Fathers: Gendered Power and th...
Title:Separated by Their Sex: Women in Public and Private in the Colonial Atlantic WorldFormat:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.27 inPublished:December 8, 2014Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801456800

ISBN - 13:9780801456800

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Lady Frances Berkeley and Virginia Politics, 1675–1678Mistress Alice Tilly and Her Supporters, 1649–16502. English Women in the Public Realm, 1642–1653Mistress Elinor James and Her Broadsides, 1681–17143. John Dunton and the Invention of the Feminine PrivateMistress Sarah Kemble Knight and Her Journal, 17044. Women and Politics, Eighteenth Century–StyleLady Chatham and Her Correspondents, 1740s–1760s5. Consolidating the Feminine PrivateConclusion: Defining "Women"Notes

Editorial Reviews

"Mary Beth Norton is always bold, always challenging, always ambitious. In this stunningly researched new book, Norton reconfigures our thinking about women's status in Britain and America during the long century after the English Civil War by mapping a shift in worldview from hierarchy to gender. Separated by their Sex will stir interest and debate." - Edith Gelles, Stanford University, author of Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage