Domestic Affairs: Intimacy, Eroticism, and Violence between Servants and Masters in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Front Cover
JHU Press, Feb 2, 2009 - Literary Criticism - 240 pages

From Daniel Defoe’s Family Instructor to William Godwin’s political novel Caleb Williams, literature written for and about servants tells a hitherto untold story about the development of sexual and gender ideologies in the early modern period. This original study explores the complicated relationships between domestic servants and their masters through close readings of such literary and nonliterary eighteenth-century texts.

The early modern family was not biologically defined. It included domestic servants who often had strong emotional and intimate ties to their masters and mistresses. Kristina Straub argues that many modern assumptions about sexuality and gender identity have their roots in these affective relationships of the eighteenth-century family. By analyzing a range of popular and literary works—from plays and novels to newspapers and conduct manuals—Straub uncovers the economic, social, and erotic dynamics that influenced the development of these modern identities and ideologies.

Highlighting themes important in eighteenth-century studies—gender and sexuality; class, labor, and markets; family relationships; and violence—Straub explores how the common aspects of human experience often intersected within the domestic sphere of master and servant. In examining the interpersonal relationships between the different classes, she offers new ways in which to understand sexuality and gender in the eighteenth century.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

1 The Servant Problem and the Family
1
Servants Family Pedagogy and Sexuality
19
Pamela and Elizabeth Canning 1740 to 1760
47
Roxana Amy and the Crimes of Elizabeth Brownrigg 1724 to 1767
83
5 Performing the Manservant 1730 to 1760
110
6 Men Servants Sexuality in the Novel 1740 to 1794
141
Notes of a Footman on the Servant Problem 1790
178
Notes
191
Index
215
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Kristina Straub is a professor of literary and cultural studies and associate dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. She is the author of Sexual Suspects: Eighteenth-Century Players and Sexual Ideology and Divided Fictions: Fanny Burney and Feminine Strategy.

Bibliographic information