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«A Thesis Submitted for the Degree of PhD at the University of Warwick This thesis is made available online and is ...»

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17 Lewis, 'Separate Spheres', p.l 06 Keith Wrightson has been one of the most successful of those to explore variation and diversity in a wider context, marrying an attention to the details of individual cases with a broader historical view. He has proposed a wide range of familial situations at anyone given historical point, a range which itself developed and shifted over the centuries. He has criticised Stone's temporally specific location of determined and pragmatically motivated wedlock succeeded by free choice founded on emotion and affection and has instead argued that these factors ran side by side, varying in their relative import according to individual circumstances. 18 In this, he echoed Martin Ingram's work on courtship and marriage in Wiltshire in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. From a detailed examination of church court records, Ingram concluded that the ideal in that period was a balance of love and lucre in selecting a marriage partner together with the 'multilateral' consent of the couple, their family and their 'friends.' 19 Much of the above discussion has focussed on the debate over degrees of affection between husbands and wives and between parents and children in past centuries. However, Stone's concept of the birth of affective individualism in the eighteenth century leads us to a second much-mooted aspect of the historiography of the family, an aspect which will similarly be dealt with in more depth later in this dissertation. The idea that a decline in patriarchal authority in the period allowed husbands to see their wives as equals has been greatly criticised. 2o Macfarlane, for example, claimed such egality to be a continuous feature of a marriage system that had 18 K. Wrightson. English Society 1580-1680 (London, 1993), pp.72-87 19 M. Ingram, Church Courts, Sex and Marriage in England, 1570-1640 (Cambridge, 1987), chapter 4 20 Stone, The Family, Sex and Marriage, p.318 dominated domestic life in England since at least the Renaissance. 21 On the other hand, gender historians argued until recently that the lives of women within the family actually became more restrictive, looking to various periods from the late seventeenth through to the mid nineteenth centuries for the birth of 'separate spheres'. They claimed that women's opportunities in the world of paid work became increasingly limited and that men were increasingly divorced from domestic and familial responsibilities. Contemporary adulation of the value of wives and mothers was a mere rhetorical device to assist in this restriction and delineation of roles and activities. 22 However, the doctrine of 'separate spheres' has, in its tum, been much criticised. First, its connection with the rise of feminist theory in the 1960s has led to criticism of its political agenda, seeking to trace a progression from the subordination of women in a patriarchal past to the greater equality of the late twentieth century, a 'whiggishness' that renders it open to the same accusation of 'present-centredness' as Macfarlane. Marriage and Love in England. p.35 Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall. Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class 1780-1850 (London. 1987). pp.333. 338. For the application of the model to the The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in eighteenth century. see O.J. Barker-Benfield.

Eighteenth-Century Britain (Chicago and London. 1992); K. Shevelow. Women and Print Culture:

The Construction of Femininity in the Early Periodical (London and New York. 1989); V. Jones, ed., Women in the Eighteenth Century: Constructions of Femininity (London and New York, 1990). Also, In the Family Way: Childbearing in the British Aristocracy. 1760-/860 see J.S. Lewis, (New Brunswick, New Jersey. 1986) p.67; R. Bloch, 'Untangling the Roots of Modern Sex Roles: A Survey of Four Centuries of Change', Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 4,2 (1978), p.250; M.

George, 'From Good Wife to Mistress: The Transformation of the Female in Bourgeois Culture', Science and Society 37 (1973), pp.152-77 and. for an early formulation of the argument of decline in working women's opportunities, A. Clark. Working Life of Women in the Seventeenth Century (1919).

(London, 1982) the work of the early family historians. 23 The descent of the respected female economic actor and help-meet into the decorative, private paragon of domesticity, entirely concerned with the affairs of the family and the house, has similarly been contested by scholars such as Judith Bennett who have argued that women's work was consistently low-skill, poorly paid and undervalued throughout the centuries and that there was no 'golden age' before the advent of capitalism. 24 Similarly, others have either countered that male participation in family life was always more limited than that of women or that men continued to be more involved than has been admitted. 25 Finally, and most importantly, the notion of spheres has been condemned as overprescriptive and thus limiting as a critical tooJ.26 The notion of an insidious patriarchy as a feature of the eighteenth and nineteenth-century family, on the masking of male privilege through the elevation and Barker and Chalus, 'Introduction', p.4. Linda K. Kerber in 'Separate Spheres, Female Worlds, Woman's Place: The Rhetoric of Women's History', The Journal of American History 75 (June 1988March 1989), pp.9-39 has examined the emergence and evolution of the doctrine of 'separate spheres', beginning as a tool to help explain and examine women's oppression in past centuries, and later employed to identify the provenance of a sense of 'sisterhood' amongst women. As a direct result of the construction of female qualities and activities as a separate domain, it was contended that women bonded together and began the journey towards feminism coalesced by a common sense of identity.





J. Bennett, 'History that stands still: women's work in the European past', Feminist Studies 14, 2 (1988), pp.269-83. See also O. Hufton, 'Women in History: Early Modem Europe', Past and Present 101 (1983) pp.125-41. More recently, as pointed out by R.B. Shoemaker, Gender in English Society. 1650-1850: The Emergence of Separate Spheres? (London and New York, 1998), p.147, a cyclical approach to the issue has been advocated, women's opportunities increasing at some historical points and declining at others.

L.A. Pollock, Forgotten Children: Parent-Child Relations from 1500-1900 (Cambridge, 1983), pp.103, 261; Shoemaker, Gender in English Society, p.128; A. Vickery, The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England (New Haven and London, 1998), pp.3-4 26 For example, see Barker and Chalus, 'Introduction', p.2. For the definitive critique of the model, see A. Vickery, 'Golden Age to Separate Spheres? A Review of the Categories and Chronology of English Women's History', Historical Journal 36,2 (1993), pp.383-414 idealisation of a specifically female domain, has not only been attacked by gender historians. Scholars of the family have also doubted that a new patriarchy was invented as a crafted ideological tool and have rather posited that the reality was a unified and, to a large degree, unproblematic blend of patriarchy and mutuality. Whilst the argument that patriarchy was embedded within the companionate ideal suggests that claims of a new equality in the eighteenth century are unfounded, it does not automatically cancel out of the possibility of reciprocity.27 As Eileen Spring asserted in her refutation of the legal basis for the Stone hypothesis: "It is not love that is incompatible with patriarchy, it is equality and freedom that are incompatible with patriarchy."28 Wrightson, in particular, has emphasised an ideal in which the wife was indeed supposed to honour and obey unquestioningly, resigning herself to the authority of her husband, but in which the husband had reciprocal duties, rewarding his wife's fulfilment of her role with affection and kindness. This translated into a reality in which elements of patriarchy and companionship could be found in any marriage, the degree of either varying according to individual circumstances. 29 The realisation that the concept of 'separate spheres' was essentially located in 27 See, for example, S.M. akin, 'Women and the Making of the Sentimental Family', Philosophy and Public Affairs 2, 1 (1982), pp.65-88. See also S.M. akin, 'Patriarchy and Married Women's Property in England: Questions on Some Current Views', Eighteenth-Century Studies 2 (Winter 1983/4), pp.121-38; S.M. Okin, 'Gender, the Public and the Private', in D. Held, ed., Political Theory Today (Cambridge, 1991), pp.67-90 28 E. Spring, 'Law and the Theory of the Affective Family', Albion 16 (1984), p.l7. Also see M. Hunt, 'Wife Beating, Domesticity and Women's Independence in Eighteenth-Century London', Gender and History 4,1 (Spring 1992), p.16; N. Tadmor, 'Dimensions ofInequality among Siblings in Eighteenth-Century English Novels: The Cases of and Clarissa The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless', Continuity and Change 7, I (1992), pp.31O-1; Vickery, The Gentleman's Daughter, p.60 29 Wrightson, English Society, pp.72-87, 90-1, quoting p.l04 prescriptive models rather than in reality points up one of the many problems of verification entailed in investigating the historical family and the gender relations within it through the 'sentiments' approach. It has revealed that sources have often been conflated and that inadequate attention has been paid to the differences between sentiments expressed in personal writings and those propounded in prescriptive and fictional literature. Those who have resisted the urge to merge such texts have either focussed on one or the other or have advised attention to the reader's inevitably partial response. As Stella Tillyard has suggested, this was likely to be "gestural rather than significant, a matter of taking what they wanted and discarding the rest."30 Others have warned historians to be wary of reading qualitative evidence selectively, seeking choice quotes in order to substantiate preconceived theses and viewing sources selectively through "a prism."31 However, the systematic analysis of such texts is far from a straightforward alternative. It is extremely hard to "assess" evidence of this nature and attempts such as that of Stone have been criticised for using "words and phrases" as "hard 'data"', to be taken "at face value and, in effect, add[ed]... up."32 His efforts to study such sources over three centuries are equally problematic. Not only does the quantity and sophistication of both published and unpublished writing vary tremendously over such a broad period, but the spectrum of society that produced and read such texts was extremely limited.

* * * * * 30 S. Tillyard, Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa and Sarah Lennox 1740-1832 (London, 1994), p.lOl 31 Kerber, 'Separate Spheres, Female Worlds, Woman's Place', p.17 32 Scott, 'The History of the Family', pp.514-5 If the sources employed in the sentiments approach to the history of the family are riddled with issues of conceptualisation and verification, then pictorial evidence is even more problematic. This, together with its unsatisfactory and much criticised use by the 1960s and '70s historians, may explain why it has been so neglected in the debates outlined above. Lawrence Stone argued that representations of the 'Closed Domesticated Nuclear Family' replaced the stiffness and formality of earlier familial imagery with scenes of intimacy, play and a new emphasis on the role of the child. 33 In this, he was closely following Phillipe Aries's model of an artistic development from the depiction of children as miniature adults in the Middle Ages to a new awareness of their particularities in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 34 This model has been widely criticised. To give just one example, Anthony Burton has attacked the extent of the visual material employed by Aries, his lack of rigour in researching that material and his assumption that no concept of childhood existed in the Middle Ages simply because it was not depicted. Rather, he has countered, the absence of such representations should be viewed in the context of the many absences in medieval art, an art almost entirely devoted to the religious. 35 It is thus not surprising that later historians have been more than circumspect in their use of the pictorial, often regarding it in much the same light as the fictional, as providing "'soft' or 'flexible' facts," as essentially "impressionistic".36 Some have 33 Stone, Family, Sex and Marriage, p.259 34 Aries, Centuries of Childhood, Part I: 'The Idea of Childhood'. Also, see J.H. Plumb, 'The New World of Children in Eighteenth-Century England', Past and Present 67 (May 1975), pp.64-95 35 A. Burton, 'Looking forward from Aries? Pictorial and Material Evidence for the History of Childhood and Family Life', Continuity and Change 4, 2 (1989), pp.203-229. Also, see Wilson, 'The Infancy of the History of Childhood', pp.l40, 145, 146 36 N. Tadmor, "Family' and 'Friend' in Pamela: A Case-Study in the History of the Family in Eighteenth-Century England', Social History 14 (1989), p.289 included illustrations as glossy appendages to their books, either failing to discuss them at all in the text or using them to emphasise and substantiate their points visually, a practice referred to by Michael Baxandall as "philistine."37 Others have rejected the validity of the pictorial altogether. Adrian Wilson attacked the idea that "art presents us with a simple and unambiguous record, whether of reality or of perceptions," and criticised Aries's notion of paintings, "as unconstrained reproductions, as objective documentation instead of the subjective and determinate artefacts which in fact they are." Linda Pollock similarly dismissed the possibility that the utility of the visual could approach that of the literary and demographic. She questioned, "how far do paintings represent reality? - there is no reason why there should be any connection between the representation and that which is represented."



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