YAMAGUCHI Midori   Faculty of Sociology Department of Sociology   Professor
■ Title
  'Unselfish' Desires: Daughters of the Anglican Clergy, 1830-1914
■ Outline
  Ph.D. thesis, University of Essex. A Victorian parsonage gives an example of a condensed form of gender relations. The father/ cleric used his religious authority to impose gendered ideas on daughters/ women, and the mother strengthened these ideas. Through the considerable numbers of biographical accounts of clergymen's daughters and various institutional records, ' "Unselfish" Desires' throws light on the lives of such women. It shows clergymen's daughters as a key to understanding Victorian gender relationships.
By focusing on 'semi-public' parsonages, the traditional understanding of 'separate spheres' is questioned. The study argues, using Bakhtin's 'double voiced' theory, that a women's sphere was discursively constructed by feminine motives: the discourses which themselves contained women's own intentions. From childhood, girls' self-will was checked, and their energy was directed into channels that strengthen the supposed feminine attributes of disinterested usefulness. Far from working merely as their father's agents, however, many daughters used the imposed ideas of their duties to enlarge their spheres. There were, however, limitations. Fathers had legal and economic power to veto their daughters' wishes. Women themselves felt uneasy when transgressing conventional gender roles.
The thesis also adds a gender dimension to the debate on gentility. Although these women mixed with various people, they worked to clarify class distinctions. They also endeavoured to keep connections within their varied group. These connections sometimes helped them fulfil their own life plans.
Clergymen's daughters were likely to have chances to develop themselves within intellectual clerical society, and to cultivate their talents through various parish duties. Backed by the Church, they were in the position to make the most of their charitable motives. In the fields of teaching, nursing, singing and acting, they often had full experience and many excelled. The thesis also covers those daughters at home, who often stayed home to free those who worked in these public fields.

  Single   pp.1   2001/03

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