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Saturday, 13 August 2011

Recent books

Since I've started actually working on the revisions I've had less time and mental energy to do these posts and have fallen sadly behind in updating. So, a quick round-up of books, and I may get round to a probably rather abbreviate roundup of articles and chapters in the next day or so.

John Tosh, A Man's Place: Masculinity and the Middle-class Home in Victorian England (Yale UP, 1999 - amazon says Mar 1999 but I don't think it was out when I was working on first edition of Sex,Gender and Social Change). This was re-read - or rather, I think I read at least parts in ms, not sure I ever read the whole thing straight through after publication - and is really useful on Victorian middle-class masculinity and the domestic and the centrality of marriage to adult manhood, and the way things shifted over the century. 

Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Context (Routledge 1995), which I should have read before and didn't. It is really excellent, and has (what somehow I had not got an impression of) a real appreciation of the complexities and the ways in which phenomena were situated. I am usually a bit dubious about people using the Munby/Cullwick relationship (it's one of those things that keeps getting revisited, and with my archivist's hat on, can't help thinking that that is because there is already a huge beaten track to their papers), but I was really excited by how McClintock used it as the basis for thick description of the wider context.

Pamela Cox, Gender, Justice and Welfare in Britain,1900-1950: Bad Girls in Britain, 1900-1950 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002). I had to skim over some sections of this because I had it on InterLibrary Loan for a very short period, but it's brilliant stuff on 'delinquent girls' and the ways girls who were seen as 'wayward' and in need of control and who were seen as 'vulnerable' and in need of care got sucked into a twilight zone of public/private provisions. And that whatever the girls were actually doing, the basic problem was seen as being about sex.

Stephen Cretney, Family Law in the Twentieth Century; A History (OUP, 2003), This is wonderful. Okay, I don't think I, or anybody, would want to sit down and read the whole thing straight through, it's a big fat book in which on most pages the footnotes take up more than half the space, but it just so clearly lays out the law and how it got to be that way and how the changes happened and what the unintended consequences were. It even told me something I hadn't known about the 1857 Divorce Law (a by-product of the desire to have a less labyrinthine probate system than was the case under the various ecclesiastical jurisdictions).

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