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248 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 same components of an inner femininity: selflessness, unselfconsciousness, self-control, self-sacrifice, and a desire to protect children. Women must have these virtues to be truly feminine. There is a fascinating and provocative argument here, even if we do not follow its logic to Dean's conclusion that gender-definitions are hopelessly tainted. However, it is so far-reaching that I wish Dean had placed this argument into a broader North American social and historical context and that she had engaged more with the international scholarship concerning both male and female gender definitions. I also would have liked more nuanced examinations of the texts she has chosen. All but one of these books are written for a popular audience and for a particular, even political, purpose in their depiction of women. These factors greatly affect the presentation of gender. The one exception i$ Sinclair Ross's As for Me and My House, the only text written by a man (a man whose own gender definitions were complex) and the only text under consideration that does not use formulas associated with the romance tradition and other 'female' modes of writing. Dean's own reading of this novel largely ignores these complexities. (DONNA BENNETT) Peter Bailey. Popular Culture and Performance in the Victorian City Cambridge University Press. X, 258. us $59.95 This collection of previously published essays showcases the work of arguably the most important historian of Victorian popular culture. Over the past two decades Bailey's elegant, stimulating, and highly influential work has illustrated the persistence of a vigorous popular culture at a time when moral reformers were attempting to impose a more 'rational recreation ' on the working class. Building on his earlier work, which demonstrated that leisure was (and indeed remains) contested cultural territory, these essays confirm Bailey's pOSition, now accepted by most students of the genre, that the earlier assumption concerning the polarization of genteel and popular culture was overstated. It is fascinating to note that the essays, with one exception arranged in order of initial publication, reflect Bailey's ability to stay one step ahead of historical trends; his work has been so vital in large part because it has always been fresh and innovative. Along with such historians as Judith Walkowitz and Patrick Joyce, Bailey is responsible for nudging historians into a wider and more balanced interpretation of social history. His work goes beyond class to include a more sympathetic treatment of issues such as gender, language, and performance. However, as he states in the introduction, class remains a central concern in his work, particularly those early essays in the collection which are concerned with leisure and class in the industrial city. One feature of Bailey's work is his consistent position that popular culture in the late nineteenth century was broadly democratic, 'answering HUMANITIES 249 both to the ritual promptings of an indigenous custom, old and newly forged, and the slicker formulations of mass and middle-brow commercial confection.' Moreover, Bailey is convinced that culture was not imposed, butwas negotiated. Thusin 'A RoleAnalysis ofWorking-Class Respectability ' he argues that while it is true th~t respectability reflected a plebeian compliance with bourgeois norms, respectability could also be calculative, worn, like Sunday clothes, as a defence against middle-class charity. I Ally Sloper's Half-Holiday' also reflects, among other things, the democratization of leisure, bringing together high and low life, 'collapsing distinctions of class and caste, age and grace, in a new fraternity of the playful.' Issues of gender are discussed in a wonderfully revealing chapter on barmaids in which Bailey illustrates the theatre of pub life and the role played by the bar counter that separated the glamorous barmaid from pub customer. Significantly, the tensions inherent in this new 'parasexuality' were not imposed by male pub managers, but developed piecemeal, as a reflection of the sexualization of everyday life. The encounter between barmaid and punter was conditioned, Bailey argues, by what he calls the 'knowingness' at the heart of popular culture. As he observes in 'Champagne Charlie and the Music-Hall Swell Song' and in 'Music Hall and the Knowingness of Popular Culture,' which lie, literally and figuratively...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 248-249
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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