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reviews 121 Because the book itself teaches so well that the privilege of a non-polemical tone (the choice not to take up a single cross) is always precarious and constantly in jeopardy, it is perhaps less susceptible to being judged as a "safe" book for its quiet negotiations between its various audiences and theoretical investments. In recounting how Theroigne attempted to negotiate between irreconcilable factions and was compelled to take up positons that—in the turbulance of her time—marked her for the asylum, Theroigne insinuates itself productively among its own discursive factions. By thematizing the constructions and reductions of Theroigne—as political partisan, as myth, as case study—Theroigne is able to exceed each of them and to remain in the conversation as Theroigne herself could not. The reader is challenged to take up the biography as an open question of how the crosses of subjectivity and gender stigmatize, sublate, reify and deify their carriers. Roudinesco reads Theroigne'e legacy with celebration and mourning—and, in its wake, with the renewed commitment of her subject to live out and to outlive the turbulance of her discursive history. IRA LIVINGSTON Childhood. Culture and Class in Britain, Margaret McMillan 1860-1931 by Carolyn Steedman. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1990. 343 pp. $15.00 (paper). In Childhood, Culture and Class in Britain, Margaret McMillan 1860-1931 , Carolyn Steedman finds that much about the life of educator Margaret McMillan is unknowable, since her personal papers are sketchy and "prevent any drawing aside of an archival curtain to reveal the personal story and the real woman behind the public persona" (226). Instead of drawing aside that curtain, Steedman undertakes this effort with two other purposes in mind. First, she wants the life story to "raise certain questions about the history of British social and political culture," about the way in which working-class childhood was discovered and used politically in this period; the role of women in local and national political life between 1890 and 1920; the development of social theory and social policy through the contrasting of country and city; the way in which the ILP [Independent Labour Party]—and more broadly, the socialist movement of the 1890s and 1900s—drew on various bodies of thought that allowed them to make connections between material and cultural life (11). Second, Steedman uses McMillan's life to explore various issues of social identity and literary expression. She pursues these lines by dissecting the creation, significance and limitations of McMillan's status as a saintly savior of working-class children; by analyzing how McMillan herself participated in creating that identity; and by revealing what we can learn about gender roles and socialist politics from understanding McMillan's representations, through her writing, of her sister, herself and her work. The sustained effort constantly to address these two purposes makes this book not only a biographical experiment, but a meditation on the effort to combine social history and literary analysis. A basic outline of McMillan's life and work is already well established. Bom of Scottish parents in Westchester, New York, Margaret's life history is intertwined with that of her older 122 reviews sister Rachel. The girls grew up in Inverness, in the home of their maternal grandparents to whom their mother returned in 1 865 with her two daughters after the death of a younger girl and the father. Their Scottish upbringing introduced a measure of religious and social dissent into the young girls' lives. Gaelic was spoken in the household, the family worshipped in the Scottish Presbyterian church, and the grandfather passed on his distrust of English hegemony. Although comfortably off—they were educated in private schools and privately coached in various subjects—the girls were prepared to earn a living since the family could not support them indefinitely. Rachel first taught in a women's secondary school in Coventry and then spent the years 1877-1888, nursing their grandmother. Between 1878 and 1888 Margaret studied music and other subjects in Germany and Switzerland and held a number of posts as a governess, an experience subsequently explored in various stories. After their grandmother's death in 1 888, Rachel, then twenty...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 121-125
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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