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Title: Reorienting "Lost" time : reading Godey's Lady's Book in the Civil War
Authors: Hand, Charlotte
Keywords: Humanities::Language
Issue Date: 2019
Abstract: In antebellum America, women were masters of the multiple, competing temporalities that organised the nation, but not of their own time. Domestic manuals, diaries, and letters of women across the North and South reveal that they synchronised their domestic duties and leisure hours with the schedules and demands of their male counterparts. Male time, that is, not only defined the limits of women’s proper, domestic sphere of influence, but also structured the nature of their experience within that sphere. Building on the work of Barbara Welter and Linda Kerber, scholars have recognised the spatial context (the domestic sphere) in which the female gender is constructed. My paper proposes a temporal approach to this subject. Ordered by male time, the temporal experience of antebellum women (which I term “domestic time”) socialised them according to the American ideal of the “true woman.” This male-oriented domestic time was inevitably disrupted during the Civil War when many men marched off to battle. As women assumed household authority and performed increasingly public duties, they experienced time in a new way: as an oscillation between domestic and public chronometries. Accordingly, the temporal threads that fashioned the true woman came undone. The simultaneous emergence of wayward women appeared to affirm the belief that the distortion of domestic time resulted in an immoral personhood. The women’s magazines of the era reflected this anxiety of such temporal change. Examining the Civil War issues of Godey’s Lady’s Book, particularly their New Year frontispieces, my paper argues that the influential magazine sought to restore the moral role of women by reorienting the new temporal experience of female readers to domestic time. Predicated on the prevalent belief that a well-kept home would secure the future of society, this was a political response intended to ease sectional tension.
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SoH Theses

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