Intimacy, Eroticism, and Violence between Servants and Masters in Eighteenth-Century Britain
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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I owe thanks to many colleagues who read parts of this book and improved it with their suggestions and comments. Jon Klancher gave me helpful and generous feedback on an early version combining chapters 1 and 2, as did Michael Witmore on what became chapter 2. Laura Rosenthal and Mita Choudhury gave me strong editorial advice on my reading of the Elizabeth Brownrigg materials,...
1 The ‘‘Servant Problem’’ and the Family
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This book began as a cultural study of power relations between eighteenth century British servants and their masters and mistresses. How did a wide array of popular print and theatrical texts envision these relations? Second, how were those imaginings responsive to and formative of changing economic and social conditions in the institution of domestic servitude? Third, how did...
2 ‘‘In the Posture of Children’’: Servants, Family Pedagogy, and Sexuality
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Domestic servants, like the more familiar figures of conjugal and blood relations in historical narratives about the emergence of family and domestic ideology, are seen throughout the century as objects of instruction, people who must be taught their proper role within the family. The history of the eighteenth-century servant as a pedagogical subject runs a course...
3 Interpreting the Woman Servant: Pamela and Elizabeth Canning, 1740 to 1760
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Richardson’s Pamela is key to so many discussions of eighteenth-century British literary and cultural history that to position it as a text about domestic service initially seems an embarrassing oversimplification of a culturally, politically, and rhetorically complex text. To focus on Pamela’s status as a female domestic servant is also not new, as the novel’s connections to contemporaneous...
4 Dangerous Intimacies: Roxana, Amy, and the Crimes of Elizabeth Brownrigg, 1724 to 1767
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Interpreting the woman servant became a kind of cultural pastime in the mid-eighteenth century, an obsessive return to, rather than a resolution of, what this particular object of masculine desire might, herself, want. As an erotic object, but also as a subject to whom conscious motives were attributed, the female domestic compels explication. What is her power? Her...
5 Performing the Manservant, 1730 to 1760
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If the conundrum of women servants’ sexuality offers new insight into the formation of modern theories of gender and sexuality, men servants play a different but equally important role in the affective and instrumental family from which those theories draw. And as in the case of female domestics, the sexuality of British male servants in the eighteenth century...
6 Men Servants’ Sexuality in the Novel, 1740 to 1794
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In the midcentury theater, the sexuality of men servants was important to the performance of a masculine charisma that appealed to British audiences across class lines. A half century’s worth of prose fictional menservants grew out of this stage character of the sexy footman and, beginning in 1740 with Fielding’s Joseph Andrews, developed him in the novel. In Joseph, the...
Conclusion: Notes of a Footman on the ‘‘Servant Problem,’’ 1790
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This study ends by stepping from fiction to a memoir, the autobiographical travel narrative of John Macdonald, a career servant. This text, currently available through an edition in the Broadway Travellers Series, was originally entitled Travels. It was not a popular book at the time of its first publication, going through only one edition, ‘‘printed for the Author, and...
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Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2009