Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
For many years, we have heard from eighteenth-century male voices, often upper-class voices, but seldom, from female voices and very rarely middle-class and lower-class female voices. The pens of many of these women as illustrated by Anna Letitia Barbauld conserved information which is different from male voices we have already heard. Rather than concentrating on the political, grand scale, women like Barbauld have focused on the domestic or what theorist Michel de Certeau calls the "science of singularity." Through this focus on the elements of everyday life within her poetry, Anna Letitia Barbauld has preserved a local culture and economy which helps us in the twentieth century to understand the particularities of her life within the eighteenth century. Barbauld's world is seen through her eyes, filtering our understanding as she is influenced by the her time, gender, profession and class. This paper focuses on Barbauld's poems which depict home life and, after establishing its critical frame in the introduction, is divided into three chapters: the first, on the work in an eighteenth century middle-class home as depicted in her poem "Washing-Day"; the second, on the work involved in courtship and marriage as depicted in a number of marriage poems; and the third, on the work of child-bearing, child-rearing and education in a variety of other poems. The paper looks at the tensions and inconsistencies within her work; the discrepancies inform us of the pressures which influence the home and middle-class women of the eighteenth-century. Further the paper, examines Barbauld's participation in the shift described by Nancy Armstrong as [seeking] to disentangle the language of sexual relations from the language of politics, II a shift in thinking from general to specific, from status system to the value of the individual.
Blain, Garry, ""Come, then, domestic Muse": The Preservation of Local Culture and Economy in the Poetry of Anna Letitia Barbauld." (1997). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6544.
McMaster University Library