Marketing Women: Representations of Working Women in Early Modern London

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University of Southern California, 2008 - 348 pages
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This project will examine the popular culture of early modern London to see what ideology has to show us about women's work and attitudes about women in and on the market. By examining the language of consumption and sexuality that intertwines all images of women in the workplace, I will show the constraints within which real women worked in early modern London. But, beyond this historical investment, the project more broadly demonstrates the ways in which the imagination of women working, the fictional representation of women at work, served not only as a mimetic representation of actual women working in early modern England; it also, more potently, reveals the symbolic position held by women during a period of transition and anxiety. Representing working women offered a means for thinking through issues of change. Thus fictional women function both mimetically and symbolically, both mirroring their real life counterparts and signifying broader concerns. Early modern London was undergoing cultural changes related to capitalism, class, national identity, and religion. Women in the popular literature of the time became the battleground upon which ideological changes were fought; representations of working women, because of the way production, consumption, and reproduction were linked, particularly bore the brunt of these ideological battles.

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