HST3013/3014: The Making of the Modern Home: Gender and Domesticity, England 1650-1800
40 credits (semesters 1 and 2)
A pass in at least two history modules at level two.
By the end of the eighteenth century, `home´ meant more than a dwelling. No longer simply a physical place, it was the focus of powerful emotional attachments, at the centre of family life, and core to British national identity. This module traces the processes involved.
From 1650, both the physical structure of the home and the economic function of the household radically transformed. Houses became larger and subdivided arguably allowing for greater privacy. Domestic material culture diversified due to economic developments in Britain and also an expansion in overseas trade. A proliferation of consumer goods transformed the domestic interior. These changes affected people's experiences and imaginings of the home. As family life transformed, the effects on men and women – and masculinity and femininity – were considerable. New forms of writing began to invest the `home´ with greater significance. Long considered the bedrock of social order, the family and its dwelling became increasingly important to society and in politics. By the end of the period, `domesticity´ was central to British personal and national identity.
The module uses a wide range of source types to explore these changes. Students study material objects, visual images and written texts, drawing on anthropology, archaeology, and the history of art, design, literature, architecture and material culture. Looking at teapots, candlesticks, floor plans, portraits, advertisements, conduct books, diaries and novels, we ask a series of questions: What did `home´ mean to contemporaries? Who had power in the household? Who did the shopping? How did changing decorative styles reflect political and cultural conditions? In what ways did changing interior design affect domestic relations? How were household power relations shaped by the material features of the domestic interior? What was `modern´ about the eighteenth-century home? This interdisciplinary module examines how changes in the physical space and economic function of the household affected both domestic power relations and the meaning of 'home'.
The module is split into four main sections: Gender and Household Relationships, Objects and Concepts, Spaces, and the Interior and Exterior. At the beginning of the module we examine the home as a site of economic production and power relations, move on to consider consumption, style and architecture, before exploring how the home and `domesticity´ became such a profoundly important idea in the creation of personal and national identities.
Some sessions are tutor-led, others are student-led and students are often invited to work in groups. Some seminars follow a standard format, but teaching and learning methods are various and are designed to suit the range of sources we examine on the module. In the past, students have given individual presentations on aspects of the interior (eg. lighting), group presentations on single rooms (eg. the bedchamber), and dramatic performances of eighteenth-century autobiographies. The module includes handling sessions in local museums and visits to historic interiors.
Class discussions draw on both primary and secondary sources, and give students to acquire an in-depth knowledge of the historiography, to discuss this work critically, and to analyze a range of primary sources in depth. Through discussion of these primary and secondary materials students develop their understanding of the social and cultural impact of physical and economic changes in the household.
The word limit for essays includes footnotes, but excludes the bibliography.
All of these books are important and are in the library. If you choose to purchase one, I would suggest the paperback of Michael McKeon's book. A coursepack, with selected readings, will also be available for this module.
- Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall, Family Fortunes: Men and women of the English middle class, 1780-1850 (London, 1992)
- Peter Earle, The Making of the English Middle Class: Business, Society and Family Life in London, 1660-1730 (London, 1989)
- Margaret Hunt, The Middling Sort: Commerce, Gender and the Family in England, 1680-1780 (California, 1996)
- Michael McKeon, The secret history of domesticity : public, private, and the division of knowledge (Baltimore, 2005)
- Raffaella Sarti (trans. Allan Cameron), Europe at Home: Family and Material Culture, 1500-1800 (New Haven, 2002)
- Carole Shammas, The Pre-Industrial Consumer in England and America (Oxford, 1990)
- Carole Shammas, A History of Household Government in America (Virginia, 2002)
- Lawrence Stone, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England, 1500-1800 (Harmondsworth, 1977)
- Naomi Tadmor, Family and Friends in Eighteenth-Century England: Household, Kinship and Patronage (Cambridge, 2001)
- John Tosh, A Man's Place: Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian England (Yale, 1999)
- Lorna Weatherill, Consumer Behaviour and Material Culture in Britain, 1660-1760 (London, 1988)
Intended Learning Outcomes