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58Victorian Review Victorian home but in our (mis)understanding of it (252), it is surprising that he fails to pay close attention to any representative group of modern historical texts pandering to "our" need to understand the Victorians as child-beaters. Instead, he simply comments, "There seems to be no end to such stories [of schoolmasters' violent treatment of boys]. At least it is not easy to overestimate our interest in them or our willingness to expand a few old-boy stories into a general pattern" (254). There is no denying the arbitrary side of historical interpretation, but that Kincaid analyzes no works that fall into his "general pattern" lays him open to suspicion that his project is at least as arbitrary as "ours." Perhaps the New Scholarship is not in every respect an improvement on the Old. There is much to admire in this study: its easy command of sources, its accessible prose, its willingness to question. Certainly Child-Loving is a work that postmodern theorists and cultural critics will wish to come to terms with. Victorianists, feminists, traditionalists, and concerned parents may decide to mine it more selectively. CLAUDIA NELSON Southwest Texas State University Sonya O. Rose. Limited Livelihoods: Gender and Class in NineteenthCentury England. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1992. xii + 292. $39.95 US (cloth). The massive social, cultural, and economic upheavals that accompanied the development of industrial capitalism in the nineteenth century were in large part shaped, argues Sonya Rose, by contemporary concepts of gender and gender roles. Such a thesis clearly locates this work within the corpus of innovative feminist and gender scholarship. But in her concentration on the lived experience of working-class men and women, she also places herself and her study firmly in the older tradition of cultural historians like Patrick Joyce, Leonore Davidoff, E.P. Thompson, and Raymond Williams, whose Marxism and Literature Rose acknowledges as "central to the creation" of this book (xi). Working-class men and women, she argues, "were forced to improvise new directions for living that altered the familiar routes of the past, and gender distinctions were crucial to these transformed patterns and emerging practices" (1). Reviews59 In her analysis of how concepts of gender affected industrial development, Rose concentrates on gender relations within and across class boundaries: male employer to both male and female workers, male worker to female worker, male identity and solidarity within the working class, and female identity and the cult of domesticity. Apparently accepted social and industrial norms, such as what constitutes "men's work" vs. "women's work," did not, as is generally assumed, define how labour and labour relations developed in the nineteenth century, Rose demonstrates. Rather, these "norms" evolved through on-going interactions among middle-class employers and legislators and working-class employees of both sexes, producing conflicts within specific industries and communities — amply illustrated in Rose's carefully researched historical analyses. The major factor in these conflicts was the interaction of opposing middle-class and working-class ideologies, especially the ideologies of domesticity, femininity, and motherhood, the pragmatic working-class version — to "do the best you can" (95) — constrasting sharply with the domestic idyll inherent in the middle-class doctrine of separate spheres. The most interesting and insightful section of this study is the analysis of public policy relating to industry and employment, most significantly as embodied in the New Poor Law and the Factory Acts, and in the public and parliamentary debates surrounding them. Rose convincingly demonstrates that the debates posited and fostered ideas about what constituted private vs. public responsibility, ideas that eventually became entrenched in public policy and accepted as normal and natural: The debates blamed infant mortality on working mothers and not on overcrowded and unsanitary towns and cities or on the poverty produced by low wages and the high rates of under-employment and casual labor that marked the period in some areas of the country. In addition, the public drama surrounding the passage of this legislation vilified working-class men whose wives were working in factories. It blamed the employment of wives on working men's moral failings, not on the inadequacy of the pay packet handed them...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 58-61
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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