Domestic Novelists in the Old South

Domestic Novelists In The Old South: Defenders Of The Southern Culture


At a time when sectional conflicts were dividing the nation, five best-selling southern domestic novelists vigorously came to the defense of their native region. In response to northern criticism, Caroline Gilman, Caroline Hentz, Maria McIntosh, Mary Virginia Terhune, and Augusta Jane Evans presented through their fiction what they believed to be the "true" South. From the mid-1830s through 1866, these five novelists wrote about an ordered South governed by the aristocratic ethic of noblesse oblige, and argued that slavery was part of a larger system of reciprocal relationships that made southern society the moral superior of the individualistic North.Scholars have typically approached the domestic novel as a national rather than a regional phenomenon, assuming that because practically all domestic fiction was written by and for women, the elements of all domestic novels are essentially identical. Elizabeth Moss corrects that simplification, locating Gilman, Hentz, McIntosh, Terhune, and Evans within the broader context of antebellum social and political culture and establishing their lives and works as important sources of information concerning the attitudes of southerners, particularly southern women, toward power and authority within their society. Moss's study of the novels of these women challenges the "transhistorical view" of women's history and integrates women into the larger context of antebellum southern history.Domestic Novelists in the Old South shows that whereas northern readers and writers of domestic fiction may have been interested in changing their society, their southern counterparts were concerned with strengthening and sustaining the South's existing social structure. But the southern domestic novelists did more than reiterate the ideology of the ruling class; they also developed a compelling defense of slavery in terms of southern culture that reflected their perceptions of southern society and women's place within it. Just how strong an impact these books had cannot be precisely determined, but Moss argues that at the height of their popularity, the five novelists were able to reach a broader audience than male apologists.In spite of their literary and historical significance, Caroline Gilman, Caroline Hentz, Maria McIntosh, Mary Virginia Terhune, and Augusta Jane Evans have received scant scholarly attention. Moss shows that the lives and works of these five women illuminate the important role domestic novelists played in the ideological warfare of the day. Writing in the language of domesticity, they appealed to the women of America, using the images of home and hearth to make a persuasive case for antebellum southern culture.



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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Sold by: HPB South Lamar
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  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Louisiana State Univ Pr
  • ISBN-13: 9780807117309
  • ISBN: 0807117307
  • Publication Year: 1992
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HPB condition ratings
  • New: Item is brand new, unused and unmarked, in flawless condition.
  • Fine/Like New (F): No defects, little usage. May show remainder marks. Older books may show minor flaws.
  • Very Good (VG): Shows some signs of wear and is no longer fresh. Attractive. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Good (G): Average used book with all pages present. Possible loose bindings, highlighting, cocked spine or torn dust jackets. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Fair (FR): Obviously well-worn, but no text pages missing. May be without endpapers or title page. Markings do not interfere with readability. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Poor (P): All text is legible but may be soiled and have binding defects. Reading copies and binding copies fall into this category. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
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