'Just a Housewife'

'Just a Housewife' : The Rise and Fall of Domesticity in America

3.86 (38 ratings by Goodreads)
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The author shows how the nineteenth century's 'cult of domesticity' had invested the home with great importance - as the centre of republican virtue, as the source of religious values and as an area of heady female responsiblities. But this emphasis meant that women were relegated to the domestic sphere, especially when Darwin's 'survival of the fittest' doctrine seemed to indicate that women were physically inferior to men. Ironically, the industrialization of the home in the early twentieth century failed to improve women's lot; on the contrary, it helped lose the home its place of centrality in American culture and produced a terrible dilemma for women by urging them to go into the work place but offering them very little social support for doing so.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 139.7 x 210.82 x 22.86mm | 294.83g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0195059255
  • 9780195059250
  • 1,361,945

About Glenna Matthews

Has taught at University of California, Berkeley and Davisshow more

Review quote

'her experience and good common sense enliven, and enrich, this valuable study. One looks forward to her next book.' Washington Post 'a lively account ... Matthews' portrayal of the currents surrounding the 19th-century household are fresh and convincing.' The Philadelphia Inquirer `Her scholarly but very readable history gives women, like other oppressed minorities, the past they can be proud of.' San Jose Mercury News `this groundbreaking book provides an essential historical backdrop to Betty Friedan's classic The Feminine Mystique Library Journalshow more

Back cover copy

This volume depicts the changing attitudes towards domesticity in this country, from widespread reverence for the home in the nineteenth century to the lack of respect and attention that house-wives have received and continue to receive in this century. Examining novels, letters, popular magazines, and cookbooks, Matthews argues that the culture of professionalism in the late nineteenth century and the culture of consumption that came to fruition in the 1920s combined to kill off the "cult of domesticity".show more

Rating details

38 ratings
3.86 out of 5 stars
5 34% (13)
4 26% (10)
3 32% (12)
2 8% (3)
1 0% (0)
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