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British history

Household Politics: Conflict in Early Modern England

Don Herzog.
Publisher Yale  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.3 x 0.75 inches
ISBN 9780300180787
Pages/Publication Date 209/2013
Daedalus Item Code 52743
List Price: $45.00
Sale Price: $6.98
You Save: $38.02
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Canonical sources and sermons of early modern England often urge the subordination of women; law professor Don Herzog argues here that these sources were blather—not that they were irrelevant, but that plenty of people rolled their eyes at them. Indeed many held that a man had to be an idiot or a buffoon to try to act on such hoary "wisdom." Nor did households bask serenely in naturalized patriarchy; husbands, wives, and servants struggled endlessly over authority. Conflict, Herzog argues, isn't corrosive to social order; it is the foundation of it. The social world Herzog brings vibrantly alive is much richer—and much pricklier—than many imagine.

"Marshaling a mind-boggling array of evidence from hack writers, popular songs, ribald poems, scatological jokes, naughty proverbs, uncouth comedies, murderous stories, speeches, letters, pamphlets, journals, and Jonathan Swift, Herzog takes square aim at a host of academically generated distinctions and gendered shibboleths. These include the stolid construct of 'separate spheres' and the notion that early modern England, with the help of 'conduct books', naturalized a system of patriarchy to which people submitted like sheep. Demolishing that dreary picture with wryly penetrating wit and consummate textual dexterity, Herzog gives us rollicking good proof that, across the landscape of daily English life, controversies over authority's legitimacy were rife, misogyny was mocked, 'conflict not consensus' was the order of the day, and politics, not patriarchy, governed the household. Cheerfully defiant and politically combative, Household Politics will no doubt give rise to some conflicts of its own. It's a wonderfully mischievous little gem of a book."—Mary G. Dietz

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