The Other woman’s sphere: Nuns, prostitutes, and the medicalization of middle-class domesticity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The difference between the Puritan woman and her antebellum counterpart, according to The Scarlet Letter, is the latter's surer sense of the "impropriety" attaching to her appearance in the public sphere. "The [Puritan] age had not so much refinement, that any sense of impropriety restrained the wearers of petticoat and farthingale from stepping forth into the public ways, and wedging their not insubstantial persons, if occasion were, into the throng [of public life] … Morally, as well as materially, there was a coarser fiber in those wives and maidens of old English force and breeding, than in their fair descendants, separated from them by a series of six or seven generations; for, throughout that chain of ancestry, every successive mother has transmitted to her child a fainter bloom, a more delicate and briefer beauty, and a slighter physical frame, if not a character ofless force and solidity than her own,!

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Puritan Origins of American Sex
Subtitle of host publicationReligion, Sexuality, and National Identity in American Literature
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages169-190
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781136692291
ISBN (Print)9780415926393
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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    Fessenden, T. (2014). The Other woman’s sphere: Nuns, prostitutes, and the medicalization of middle-class domesticity. In The Puritan Origins of American Sex: Religion, Sexuality, and National Identity in American Literature (pp. 169-190). Taylor and Francis. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315023083-16