By Kristina Straub
From Daniel Defoe's kinfolk teacher to William Godwin's political novel Caleb Williams, literature written for and approximately servants tells a hitherto untold tale concerning the improvement of sexual and gender ideologies within the early glossy interval. This unique research explores the complex relationships among family servants and their masters via shut readings of such literary and nonliterary eighteenth-century texts. The early glossy relations used to be no longer biologically outlined. It integrated family servants who frequently had powerful emotional and intimate ties to their masters and mistresses. Kristina Straub argues that many sleek assumptions approximately sexuality and gender identification have their roots in those affective relationships of the eighteenth-century relatives. by means of studying various well known and literary works -- from performs and novels to newspapers and behavior manuals -- Straub uncovers the commercial, social, and erotic dynamics that inspired the improvement of those glossy identities and ideologies.Highlighting issues vital in eighteenth-century experiences -- gender and sexuality; classification, exertions, and markets; kinfolk relationships; and violence -- Straub explores how the typical points of human adventure usually intersected in the family sphere of grasp and servant. In reading the interpersonal relationships among the several sessions, she bargains new ways that to appreciate sexuality and gender within the eighteenth century.
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Extra resources for Domestic Affairs: Intimacy, Eroticism, and Violence between Servants and Masters in Eighteenth-Century Britain
For many writers from Defoe to Trimmer, however, the sexually magnetic nature of the London maidservant is understood not only as its own social and moral problem, but as a byproduct of her (sexually saturated) choice, yet another twist in the problems allegedly created by her economic agency and social mobility. Sex, for many writers in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, is represented as a means by which female servants can gain a morally suspect power. ’’π∞ The maid’s sexual attractiveness gives her choices, albeit only dangerous ones.
Whereas Defoe saw the solution to ‘‘the servant problem’’ as the master’s strict supervision of a retainer’s time and activities within the domestic sphere, the emphasis in the reforming literature of the late eighteenth century is on the public-sphere education of future servants as much as on governing them when they are part of the employer’s household. This shift in focus from family regulation to public instruction for children is one of the most signiﬁcant changes ‘‘ i n t h e p o s t u r e o f c h i l d r e n ’’ 29 to take place in theories of servant-master relations over the century’s course.
The Adamses do not, however, see ‘‘Self-Improvement’’ through reading as the means to ﬁnancial security. ’’∑∏ Leisure reading, by the nineteenth century, was at least theoretically one of the most important mechanisms for keeping both children and domestic workers contented in their appointed roles. But while reading was supposed to prepare employers’ children to take their places in public and private life as middle-class citizens, the same literate practices were designed to provide servants—and the class of poor children from which they are generally assumed, by the end of the century, to belong—satisfaction with their lot as subordinates within the family and in society.