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The Parlour and the Suburb

The Parlour and the Suburb: Domestic Identities, Class, Femininity and Modernity

by Judy Giles

Judy Giles was Reader in Gender and Cultural Criticism, York St John’s College Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Berg, 2004
  • DOI:
    10.5040/9781350048911
  • ISBN:
    978-1-3500-4891-1 (online)

    978-1-8597-3796-5 (hardback)

    978-1-8597-3702-6 (paperback)

    978-1-8452-0627-7 (epdf)
  • Edition:
    First edition
  • Place of Publication:
    Oxford
  • Published Online:
    2018
The Parlour and the Suburb
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The Parlour and the Suburb challenges stereotypes about domesticity with a reevaluation of women’s roles in the ‘private’ sphere. Classic accounts of modernity have generally ignored or marginalized women, relegating them to the private sphere of home, sexuality and personal relationships. This private sphere has been understood as a gendered space in which a non-modern femininity is opposed to the masculine world of politics, economics, urban life and the workplace. The author argues, however, that home and private life have been crucial spaces in which the interrelations of class and gender have been significant in the formation of modern feminine subjectivitiesFocusing on the first half of the twentieth century, The Parlour and the Suburb examines how women experienced and understood the home and private life in light of modernity. It explores the identities and self-definitions that domesticity inscribed and shows how these were central to women’s sense of themselves as ‘modern’ individuals. The book draws on a range of cultural texts and practices to explore aspects of domestic modernity that have received little attention in most accounts of modern subjectivities. Topics covered include suburbia, consumption practices, domestic service and the wartime figure of the housewife. Texts examined include a range of women’s magazines, George Orwell’s Coming up for Air, Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, BBC Home Service’s ‘Help for Housewives’ and oral history narratives. ‘In this persuasively argued book Giles discusses the highly gendered nature of the concept of modernity which has, to date, marginalized the domestic space and women’s traditional role as ‘homemakers’. ‘Stephanie Spencer, Literature & History’.