The Ideology of Conduct: Essays in Literature and the History of Sexuality (Routledge Revivals)
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In The Ideology of Conduct, first published in 1987, scholars from various fields, from the medieval period to the present day, discuss literature in which the sole purpose is to instruct women in how to make themselves desirable. This collection investigates how middle-class writers who had long emulated the behaviour of the aristocracy began to criticise that behaviour by formulating an alternative object of desire. They did so without appearing to breed political controversy because it seemed to concern only the female. But writing for and about women in fact became a powerful instrument of hegemony as it introduced a whole new vocabulary for social relations, induced certain forms of economic behaviour as desirable in men and women respectively, and insured the reproduction of the nuclear family. It is argued, therefore, that the literature of conduct not only recorded but also assisted the production of our contemporary gender-based culture.
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