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Toolbox Library, primary resources thematically organized with notes and discussion questionsOnline Seminars, professional development seminars for history and literature teachersThe Triumph of Nationalism/The House Dividing, 1815-1850
The Triumph of Nationalism/The House Dividing
Topic: Culture of the Common ManTopic: Cult of DomesticityTopic: ReligionTopic: ExpansionTopic: America in 1850
Topic: Cult of Domesticity
Overview of Triumph of Nationalism
Resource Menu: Cult of Domesticity
Text 1. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
Text 2. Caroline Gilman
» Reading Guide
•  Link

Text 3. Catharine E. Beecher
Text 4. Harriet Jacobs
Text 5. Fanny Fern
Text 6. Godey's Lady's Book
Text 7. Rev. Theodore Parker
Text 8. Elizabeth Cady Stanton


RESOURCE MENU » Reading Guide Link

Reading Guide
2.  Caroline Gilman, Recollections of a Southern Matron, 1838, Ch. 35, "The Planter's Bride"

Bostonian Caroline Gilman moved to South Carolina in 1819 with her minister husband, and twenty years later she wrote two books to contrast the domestic lives of northern and southern women (the first entitled Recollections of a Housekeeper). In this chapter, Cornelia Wilton is the new and as-yet childless wife of her beloved Arthur, filling her days with longing and distractions after her husband returns to his duties as plantation owner. Worthwhile to compare this chapter with "The Angel over the Right Shoulder." Could be used in the classroom. 5 pages.


Discussion questions
  ·  How does Cornelia define a "fulfilling life" before and after her husband returns to his duties as plantation owner?
  ·  How much influence does Cornelia exert in her own life? in the life of the plantation?
  ·  Note Cornelia's interchanges with the plantation slaves. What insight do we gain from her reaction to Dinah's bearing? To her successful intercession for Dick, the runaway?
  ·  What is Cornelia's advice to single young women considering marriage?
  ·  Compare Cornelia's "moody discontent" with Mary James's "unsatisfied longings" (in Phelps's "The Angel over the Right Shoulder"). How do the two women judge themselves for having these frustrations?
  ·  How do these two stories reflect the place and self-image of white women in antebellum America?


Reading highlights
  ·  Note the significance of Gilman's introducing the chapter by describing the motley furnishings of Roseland.


» Link


Topic Framing Questions
  •  How did women of this period define themselves? What stories did they choose to tell?
  •  In what ways did these women exercise—and define—power and influence?
  •  How did the “cult of domesticity” shape the debate over woman’s place in antebellum American society?
  •  In what ways did this debate reflect the prevailing tensions of race, class, region, and religion in American society?




Toolbox: The Triumph of Nationalism / The House Dividing
Common Man | Cult of Domesticity | Religion | Expansion | America in 1850

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