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The Secret History of Domesticity

Public, Private, and the Division of Knowledge

Michael McKeon

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Winner, Association of American Publishers’ Professional and Scholarly Publishing Awards in Communication and Cultural Studies

Taking English culture as its representative sample, The Secret History of Domesticity asks how the modern notion of the public-private relation emerged in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Treating that relation as a crucial instance of the modern division of knowledge, Michael McKeon narrates its pre-history along with that of its essential component, domesticity.

This narrative draws upon the entire spectrum of English people's experience. At the most "public"…

Winner, Association of American Publishers’ Professional and Scholarly Publishing Awards in Communication and Cultural Studies

Taking English culture as its representative sample, The Secret History of Domesticity asks how the modern notion of the public-private relation emerged in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Treating that relation as a crucial instance of the modern division of knowledge, Michael McKeon narrates its pre-history along with that of its essential component, domesticity.

This narrative draws upon the entire spectrum of English people's experience. At the most "public" extreme are political developments like the formation of civil society over against the state, the rise of contractual thinking, and the devolution of absolutism from monarch to individual subject. The middle range of experience takes in the influence of Protestant and scientific thought, the printed publication of the private, the conceptualization of virtual publics—society, public opinion, the market—and the capitalization of production, the decline of the domestic economy, and the increase in the sexual division of labor. The most "private" pole of experience involves the privatization of marriage, the family, and the household, and the complex entanglement of femininity, interiority, subjectivity, and sexuality.

McKeon accounts for how the relationship between public and private experience first became intelligible as a variable interaction of distinct modes of being—not a static dichotomy, but a tool to think with. Richly illustrated with nearly 100 images, including paintings, engravings, woodcuts, and a representative selection of architectural floor plans for domestic interiors, this volume reads graphic forms to emphasize how susceptible the public-private relation was to concrete and spatial representation. McKeon is similarly attentive to how literary forms evoked a tangible sense of public-private relations—among them figurative imagery, allegorical narration, parody, the author-character-reader dialectic, aesthetic distance, and free indirect discourse. He also finds a structural analogue for the emergence of the modern public-private relation in the conjunction of what contemporaries called the "secret history" and the domestic novel.

A capacious and synthetic historical investigation, The Secret History of Domesticity exemplifies how the methods of literary interpretation and historical analysis can inform and enrich one another.

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The Secret History of Domesticity

Michael McKeon

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Reviews

Reviews

The strength of the book lies in the wealth of historical, literary, and pictorial examples that evoke the texture of domesticity, from bedchambers to bigamy.

Its central argument is wonderfully simple... McKeon will set new agendas in the understanding of the early modern to modern eras.

Those in the fields of 17th- and 18th-century cultural studies will find this book fascinating.

The scholarship is breathtaking and the intellectual analysis rigorous.

McKeon's scholarship is commanding, his erudition staggering, his systematic rigour and intellectual control steady and sure.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6.125
x
9.25
Pages
904
ISBN
9780801885402
Illustration Description
2 halftones, 84 line drawings, 11 color plates
Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
The Division of Knowledge
The Public and the Private
Domesticity
Form and Spatial Representability
Questions of Method
Part I: The Age of Separations
1. The

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
The Division of Knowledge
The Public and the Private
Domesticity
Form and Spatial Representability
Questions of Method
Part I: The Age of Separations
1. The Devolution of Absolutism
State and Civil Society
From Tacit to Explicit
Polis and Oikos
The State and the Family
Absolute Private Property
Interest and the Public Interest
Civic Humanism or Capitalist Ideology?
From the Marketplace to the Market
The Protestant Separation
Conscientious Privacy and the Closet of Devotion
What Is the Public Sphere?
2. Publishing the Private
The Plasticity of Print
Scribal Publication
Print, Property, and the Public Interest
Print Legislation and Copyright
Knowledge and Secrecy
Public Opinion
What Was the Public Sphere?
Publicness through Virtuality
Publication and Personality
Anonymity and Responsibility
Libel versus Satire
Characters, Authors, Readers
Particulars and Generals
Actual and Concrete Particularity
3. From State as Family to Family as State
State as Family
Family as State
Coming Together
Being Together
Putting Asunder
Tory Feminism and the Devolution of Absolutism
Privacy and Pastoral
4. Outside and Inside Work
The Domestic Economy and Cottage Industry
The Economic Basis of Separate Spheres
Housewife as Governor
The Whore's Labor
The Whores Rhetorick
5. Subdividing Inside Spaces
Separating Out "Science"
The Royal Household
Cabinet and Closet
Secrets and the Secretary
Noble and Gentle Households
The Curtain Lecture
Households of the Middling Sort
Where the Poor Should Live
6. Sex and Book Sex
Sex
Aristotle's Master-piece
Onania
Book Sex
Protopornography: Sex and Religion
Protopornography: Sex and Politics
The Law of Obscene Libel
Part II: Domestication as Form
7. Motives for Domestication
The Productivity of the Division of Knowledge
Domestication as Hermeneutics
Domestication as Pedagogy
Disembedding Epistemology from Social Status
Scientific Disinterestedness
Civic Disinterestedness
Aesthetic Disinterestedness
8. Mixed Genres
Tragicomedy
Romance
Mock Epic
Pastoral
Christ in the House of Martha and Mary
9. Figures of Domestication
Narrative Concentration
Narrative Concretization
Part III: Secret Histories
10. The Narration of Public Crisis
What Is a Secret History?
Sidney and Barclay
Opening the King's Cabinet
Opening the Queen's Closet
Scudéry
Women and Romance
The King Out of Power
The King in Power
The Secret of the Black Box
The Secret of The Holy War
11. Behn's Love-Letters
Love versus War?
Love versus Friendship
Fathers versus Children
Effeminacy and the Public Wife
Gender without Sex
From Epistolary to Third Person
From Female Duplicity to Female Interiority
Love-Letters and Pornography
12. Toward the Narration of Private Life
The Secret of the Warming Pan
The Private Lives of William, Mary, and Anne
The Privatization of the Secret History
The Strange Case of Beau Wilson
13. Secret History as Autobiography
Preface on Congreve
Manley's New Atalantis
Manley's Rivella
Postscript on Pope
14. Secret History as Novel
Defoe and Swift
Jane Barker and Mary Hearne
Haywood's Secret Histories
Richardson's Pamela
15. Variations on the Domestic Novel
Fanny Hill
Tristram Shandy
Humphry Clinker
Pride and Prejudice
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Michael McKeon

Michael McKeon is Board of Governors Professor of Literature at Rutgers University, the author of Politics and Poetry in Restoration England and The Origins of the English Novel, and the editor of Theory of the Novel.