Through detailed examination of a wide variety of novels, plays, sermons, songs, popular engravings, portraiture, and propaganda from the period, Toni Bowers examines the eighteenth-century struggle to develop new ideals for virtuous womanhood. She shows how popular representations of mothers codified and enforced a model of motherhood naturally and inevitably, removed from participation in the public world, and presented other ideals as monstrous. At the same time, she points out, some of the most influential texts resisted the newly reduced vision of maternal excellence by imagining alternatives to domesticity and dependence. Addressing broader social and cultural issues, and drawing radical comparisons between past and present, Bowers argues that Western culture continues to be limited by its commitment to the contradictory maternal ideals established in eighteenth-century discourse.
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(228mm x 152mm x 15mm)
Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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