Consuming Subjects: Women, Shopping, and Business in the Eighteenth Century
"An insightful examination of the history of the female shopper, Consuming Subjects explores the origins of current ideas about women and consumerism, calling into question the 'natural' link between women and the commodities they buy. While previous scholars have considered the nineteenth-century department store and arcade as the crucial place for understanding the emergence of the modern female consumer, Kowaleski-Wallasce argues that it is the eighteenth century that yields a keener understanding of the foundations of contemporary cultural practices. By focusing on the eighteenth century, she develops a clear sense of how women's appetite was diverted toward goods; how shopping became gendered as feminine; and how women's bodies became configured in relation to consumerism. The book is organized around three aspects of consumption. 'The Tea Table' illustrates the disciplining of the female body and its potential for unruliness. 'Shopping' concerns a female consumer who is both compliant and insatiably desirous. 'Business' explores a gender differentiation which excludes women as wanton, irregular, and inconstant and defines 'business' as male. Consuming Subjects is concerned with eighteenth-century literary texts; with social spaces like the tea table; and with material objects like porcelain and fine china. Kowaleski-Wallace links the rise of shopping to the appearance of modern pornography; like pornography, shopping embodies a cultural fantasy, claiming to locate and control female' pleasure.'"--Jacket.
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