Gender, Commodity Culture, and Nineteenth-Century American Literature
AUTHOR: Merish, Lori
PUBLISHER: Duke University Press
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The phenomenon of female consumption was capitalism's complement to male production: It created what Merish calls the "Other Protestant Ethic,"a feminine and sentimental counterpart to Max Weber's ethic of hard work, economic rationality, and self-control. In addition, driven by the culture's effort to civilize the "cannibalistic" practices of ethnic, class, and national otherness, appropriate female consumerism, marked by taste and refinement, identified certain women and their families as proper citizens of the United States. The public nature of consumption, however, had curiously conflicting effects: While the achievement of cultured material circumstances facilitated women's civic agency, it also reinforced stereotypes of domestic womanhood.
Sentimental Materialism's inquiry into middle-class consumption and accompanying ideals of womanhood will appeal to readers in a variety of disciplines, including American studies, cultural studies, feminist theory, and cultural history.
PUBLICATION DATE: 6/8/2000
CATEGORY: History, Literary Criticism, Social Science