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Title: The sensational Victorian nursery : Mrs Henry Wood's parenting advice
Authors: Wagner, Tamara Silvia
Keywords: DRNTU::Humanities::Literature
Victorian Sensation Fiction
Nineteenth-century Parenting Advice
Issue Date: 2017
Source: Wagner, T. S. (2017). The sensational Victorian nursery : Mrs Henry Wood's parenting advice. Victorian Literature and Culture, 45(4), 801-819. doi:10.1017/S1060150317000225
Series/Report no.: Victorian Literature and Culture
Abstract: Parenting advice has become a booming industry as well as probably one of the most contested discourses. Its proliferation and continued diversification are often considered a particularly contemporary problem, yet the virulent marketing of “expert” advice on childrearing has its roots as much in the nineteenth-century publishing industry as in the overlapping Victorian cults of domesticity, maternity, and childhood. The nineteenth century saw an explosion of advice literature on the physical, moral, and intellectual education of infants and young children. Childrearing, or parenting, rapidly created a niche market, producing specialised manuals and magazines for mothers, the precursors of the current parenting advice literature. As Victorian novelists tapped into the anxieties that these publications both addressed and further fostered, they laid bare the pressure that the childrearing discourses were exerting on mothers, yet popular authors also quickly realised how their own writing offered a vehicle for specific conceptualisations of motherhood. Harrowing scenes were used to dramatise the effects of different parenting practices; protagonists’ quarrels about such practices served both as characterisation devices and as comments on ideological conflicts between different concepts of childrearing. In the most self-consciously insightful moments, the growing supply of information came itself under criticism. Victorian novelists actively participated in shaping and circulating parenting advice in print. The sensationalised nursery fascinatingly expressed the anxieties surrounding childrearing and showed how versatile the interpellation of mothering instructions in fiction could be.
ISSN: 1060-1503
DOI: 10.1017/S1060150317000225
Rights: © 2017 Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved. This paper was published in Victorian Literature and Culture and is made available with permission of Cambridge University Press.
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SoH Journal Articles

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