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72 Victorian Review introduction, however, provides a brief and engaging discussion of how Margaret Oliphant had to coUapse the Uterary with the domestic as a professional writer. Although she doesn't map out the theoretical territory from which she writes, Cohen's readings are clearly situated between deconstructive and feminist psychoanalytic modes of literary interpretation. Cohen thus tends to read for die unspoken and the irresolvable of a text One of her more saUent conclusions in this regard is that each of the novels struggle to develop both the Ufe of the institution and the "psychological roundness" of the characters, suggesting that "domesticity raises aesthetic problems for novel formation" (101). Cohen is less concerned with identifying the specific place of the novels within larger historical debates about professionaUsm, domesticity, and intellectual capital. For example, in her introduction she notes, "many advocates of women's property reform did use the value of domestic work as grounds for a more equitable distribution of household property, and who is to say what role novelreading may have had in the persuasiveness of that argument" (7). Cohen's book raises extremely provocative questions Uke this one, but often chooses to leave them unanswered. For this reason, it wiU probably appeal more to the Uterary critic than to the Uterary historian in many of her readers. In any case, Professional Domesticity does invite aU of its readers to rethink some of the binaries and false oppositions that have characterized our understandings of Victorian domestic ideology. JANICE SCHROEDER University ofAlberta Bonnie G. Smith. The Gender ofHistory: Men, Women, and Historical Practice. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1998. vüi + 306. $21.96 US (cloth). It is rather ironic to observe that the Library of Congress Cataloguingin -Publication Data for this book identifies its subject categories as historiography, historians and women historians, since Bonnie Smith's argument is directly concerned with the disparity institutionalized in those conventional groupings. We learn that historiography is gendered, as is the historical profession, and that the masculinity of historians who are men is equally interesting, equally relevant to their research, writing and teaching, and equaUy susceptible to analysis as the Reviews73 femininity of historians who are women. Bonnie Smith's achievement is breathtaking: by applying the notion of gender to the writing and teaching of history, she stimulates fresh thinking about aspects of historical practice from the tableau vivant to the seminar room. She not only rescues from the condescension of posterity those nineteenthcentury biographers who wrote popular books about queens and women worthies, she subjects to scrutiny the very notion of the historian's role as rescuer ofpast actors, and identifier ofpast agencies. The Gender ofHistory will be of interest to Uterary scholars as weU as historians, because ofits emphasis on the processes ofwriting, and its engagement with the theoretical apparatus of gender. Although not limited to the Victorian period or indeed to Britain (many of the examples are from French historical practice), the book is nevertheless profoundly concerned with the famiUar late-nineteenth century moment of professionalization in historical studies, the moment when practitioners of the discipline aspired to be scientific rather than Uterary, when professional status was accorded by success in the seminar room (rather than the lecture hall), and the archive (rather than the travel diary). In those decades of the 188Os and 1890s, the appeal to an avid reading public began to be regarded as suspect As John Robert Seeley observed, "To make sure of being judged by competentjudges only, we ought to make history so dull and unattractive that the general pubUc wtil not wish to meddle with it" Smith unpacks the gendered nature of history in eight chapters, beginning not with the struggles of women to enter the profession, or even with the assistance provided by wives and daughters to the apparently single-authored works of the men in their families (these subjects are explored later), but with an analysis of the genius of a woman whose historical reputation, and historical practice, remain deeply problematic. In a chapter entitled "The Narcotic Road to the Past," Smith discusses the case of Germaine de Staël, forcing her reader to confront someone who was "too bizarre as a historian...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 72-74
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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