Bookbeat

Bookbeat: August 2011

Women, Literature, and the Domesticated Landscape Women, Literature, and the Domesticated Landscape

by Judith W. Page
English, University of Florida
and Elise L. Smith, Millsaps College, Mississippi (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
Available via Cambridge University Press and Amazon

Combining an analysis of literature and art, this book contends that the ‘domesticated landscape’ is key to understanding women’s complex negotiation of private and public life in a period of revolution and transition. As more women became engaged in horticultural and botanical pursuits, the meaning of gardens - recognized here both as sites of pleasure and labor, and as conceptual and symbolic spaces - became more complex. Women writers and artists often used gardens to educate their readers, to enter into political and cultural debates, and to signal moments of intellectual and spiritual insight. Gardens functioned as a protected vantage point for women, providing them with a new language and authority to negotiate between domestic space and the larger world. Although this more expansive form of domesticity still highlighted the virtues associated with the feminized home, it also promised a wider field of action, re-centering domesticity outward.

- Publisher

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