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Owning up [electronic resource] : privacy, property, and belonging in U.S. women's life writing /
Katherine Adams.
imprint
New York ; Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2009.
description
304 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
9780195336801
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York ; Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2009.
isbn
9780195336801
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
general note
Includes index.
abstract
'Owning Up' argues that from its beginning the U.S. discourse on privacy has been couched in terms of violation and dispossession, so that even as 19th century Americans came to regard privacy as a natural right, they also understood it as under threat or erasure.
catalogue key
7063035
 
Electronic reproduction. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2009. (Oxford Scholarship Online). Mode of access: World Wide Web. System requirements: Internet Explorer 6.0 (or higher) or Firefox 2.0 (or higher). Available as searchable text in HTML format. Access restricted to subscribing institutions.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2010-01-01:
The immediacy of a study on the making and unmaking of "privacy" in American literary examples from 1840 to 1890 will surprise only those who think of the 19th century as over. Adams (Univ. of South Carolina), who knows that every cultural product has a political dimension, unpacks the relevance of discourses of "self-possession" in the age that created the notion and brings it into the present. In an elegant but sometimes difficult argument, the author first exposes a contradiction at the heart of the term "self-possession," which she renames "self-(non)possession"--she construes entitlement to a private, inviolable self as a fiction--then looks at the elusiveness of a right to privacy, which for women entails (risky) self-exposure. Margaret Fuller, Sojourner Truth, and Louisa May Alcott are all enhanced by Adams's readings, but Elizabeth Keckley's tragicomic revelations about life as the servant/seamstress of Lincoln's widow repudiate a "privacy" she never owned. The concluding mini-essays on Bill Clinton and the film The Island expose the true shibboleth of "privacy" in current American discourse, in which everything "owns us up"--unwarranted surveillance, Facebook, identity theft, abortion rights, "death panels," right-to-privacy medical forms, and bank-defined terms and conditions by which one clicks "rights" away. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. F. Alaya emerita, Ramapo College of New Jersey
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Owning Up takes on a significant subject for feminist historians and literary scholars and gives it new life. Katherine Adams has produced an influential new category in determining how 'the rhetoric of privacy' not only affirms, but also challenges, the dominance of democratic authority."-Shirley Samuels, Cornell University
"Owning Uptakes on a significant subject for feminist historians and literary scholars and gives it new life. Katherine Adams has produced an influential new category in determining how 'the rhetoric of privacy' not only affirms, but also challenges, the dominance of democratic authority."-Shirley Samuels, Cornell University
"Owning Uptakes on a significant subject for feminist historians and literary scholars and gives it new life. Katherine Adams has produced an influential new category in determining how 'the rhetoric of privacy' not only affirms, but also challenges, the dominance of democratic authority."-Shirley Samuels, Cornell University "Adams treats the focus of her subject with insight, nuance, and care. Her close readings and broadly defined theoretical and historical contexts are rewards in themselves." --Biography
"Owning Uptakes on a significant subject for feminist historians and literary scholars and gives it new life. Katherine Adams has produced an influential new category in determining how 'the rhetoric of privacy' not only affirms, but also challenges, the dominance of democratic authority."-Shirley Samuels, Cornell University "Adams treats the focus of her subject with insight, nuance, and care. Her close readings and broadly defined theoretical and historical contexts are rewards in themselves." --Biography "Valuable for its insights into the interplay of privacy-property discourses' politics and socioeconomics, of stalwart white masculinity and sacred white domesticity alike imperiled,Owning Upinvites us to contrast persistent "images of embodied black unfreedom" with "the fantasy of white disembodiment" in the US today." --Modern Language Quarterly
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, January 2010
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
'Owning Up' argues that from its beginning the U.S. discourse on privacy has been couched in terms of violation and dispossession, so that even as 19th century Americans came to regard privacy as a natural right, they also understood it as under threat or erasure.
Main Description
Owning Up argues that from its beginning the U.S. discourse on privacy has been couched in terms of violation and dispossession, so that even as nineteenth-century Americans came to regard privacy as a natural right, and to identify it with sacred ideals of democratic freedom and individuality, they also understood it as under threat or erasure. Using biographical and autobiographical writing as her primary archive, Adams traces the public narrative of imperiled privacy across five centuries. Her analyses begin with the premise that nineteenth-century conceptions of privacy became meaningful only in negative relation to the encroaching forces of market capitalism and commodification. Where previous studies treat privacy as a stable category whose defining features are middle-class domesticity and femininity, Owning Up contends that privacy is an empty category that lacks fixed content and requires constant re-articulation via panic narratives in which gender always operates in intersection with race. Chapters look at how the discourse of imperiled privacy develops in conjunction with Romantic idealism and antebellum reform, racial reconstruction and the ethic of self-right, and Social Darwinist laissez faire, and culminates at the end of the century in calls for legislation to protect the American individual's "right to be let alone".
Main Description
Owning Up argues that from its beginning the U.S. discourse on privacy has been couched in terms of violation and dispossession, so that even as nineteenth-century Americans came to regard privacy as a natural right, and to identify it with sacred ideals of democratic freedom andindividuality, they also understood it as under threat or erasure. Using biographical and autobiographical writing as her primary archive, Adams traces the public narrative of imperiled privacy across five centuries. Her analyses begin with the premise that nineteenth-century conceptions ofprivacy became meaningful only in negative relation to the encroaching forces of market capitalism and commodification. Where previous studies treat privacy as a stable category whose defining features are middle-class domesticity and femininity, Owning Up contends that privacy is an empty categorythat lacks fixed content and requires constant re-articulation via panic narratives in which gender always operates in intersection with race. Chapters look at how the discourse of imperiled privacy develops in conjunction with Romantic idealism and antebellum reform, racial reconstruction and theethic of self-right, and Social Darwinist laissez faire, and culminates at the end of the century in calls for legislation to protect the American individual's "right to be let alone".
Main Description
Owning Up provides a new model for interpreting the U.S. discourse on privacy. Focusing on the formative period of the nineteenth century, Adams shows that conceptions of privacy became meaningful only when posed in opposition to the encroaching forces of market capitalism and commodification. Even as Americans came to regard privacy as a natural right and to identify it with sacred ideals of democratic freedom, they also learned to think of it as fragile and under threat. Owning Up argues that narratives of violation and dispossession played a fundamental role in the emergence of U.S. privacy discourse and in the influence this discourse continues to exert within U.S. culture. Using biographical and autobiographical writing by and about women writers including Sojourner Truth, Margaret Fuller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth Keckley, and Louisa May Alcott, Adams traces the figure of imperiled privacy across five decades. Where previous studies of early American privacy have focused on white femininity and middle-class domesticity as defining features, Owning Up contends that privacy is an empty category. Without a fixed content of its own, privacy acquires meaning only by being articulated-and constantly re-articulated-against threats of invasion and loss. Chapters look at how such narratives operate within particular political and economic contexts, including antebellum reform, racial reconstruction, free labor ideology, and laissez faire social Darwinism. The analysis concludes at the end of the century with calls for legislation to protect the individual's "right to be let alone," a culminating moment in the discourse of threatened privacy that informs the American sense of self to this day.
Table of Contents
Introduction Imperiled Privacyp. 3
Tarnished Icons, Shining Lives Fuller's Publication of Privacyp. 31
Stowe's Truths Privacy, Privation, and the Mobp. 71
Freedom and Ballgowns Elizabeth Keckley's Executive Domesticityp. 121
The Cost of Self in Two Alcott Utopiasp. 153
Epilogue Rebirthp. 202
Notesp. 215
Indexp. 257
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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