What is a House?: Domestic Ideology, Architecture, and the Market in Mid-Nineteenth-Century New England Literature
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Thoreau, while building his cabin at Walden, suggested that "most men appear never to have considered what a house is.” In the mid-nineteenth century, industrialization and the proliferation of the market economy profoundly affected American domestic life, with the increasing prominence of pattern books and sentimental novels transforming the physical and ideological makeup of the home. New England writers, attempting to simultaneously honor their Puritan heritage and embrace the burgeoning market, present a compelling study in literary domesticity. The writings of Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Catharine Beecher, and Harriet Beecher Stowe explore the consequences of market economy on domestic life: its architecture, its religious and secular ideologies, its temporality, and its separate gendered spheres. Thoreau’s initial assertion, therefore, is worth exploring; some New England men (and women) did consider the house, and their writings reveal the shifting role of domesticity and economy in antebellum America.
Franklin and Marshall College Archives, Undergraduate Honors Thesis 2012
- F&M Theses Collection 
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