The Cult of Domesticity | National Humanities Center

Humanities in Class: Webinar Series

The Cult of Domesticity

Lucinda H. MacKethan (Fellow, 1984–85)

June 29, 2011

The Cult of Domesticity was a societal ideal promoted especially during the mid- and late nineteenth century. It provided a behavioral handbook, a “code,” for middle-class white women in America that served as a way to value, to judge, and to control how they would both see themselves and be understood by others. Women who questioned the social, economic, and artistic limitations that this code imposed learned to challenge it from within the “sphere” of influence that it prescribed. This workshop explores how the cult of domesticity constrained women, and how some women transformed it into a tool of empowerment.


Gender and Sexuality / History / American History / Women's History / Domesticity / Cultural History /