Divulging Household Privacies: The Politics of Domesticity from the Caroline Court to Paradise Lost (seminar)

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This was a fall 2001 semester seminar.

This wide-ranging, interdisciplinary seminar brought together aspects of seventeenth-century British art, literature, history, and popular print culture to examine the political nature and impact of domesticity from the Caroline court through the early Restoration. Although matters of state and political theory are often separated from discussions of gender, marriage, maternity, and family, this seminar aims to reconnect public and private, political and domestic by tracing visual, literary, and printed constructions of domesticity. How does print both disseminate and transform the royal image, in particular the "private" image of marriage and family? How does women's writing redefine the domestic sphere while shaping an emergent public one? How do royalists deploy the family to bolster monarchical power? How do oppositional voices use the family/state analogy to argue for contractual and republican forms of government? Likely texts and topics of discussion included: Van Dyck portraiture of Charles I and Henrietta Maria; Stuart court masques and Milton's Comus; the politics of cavalier poetry; family and state in domestic conduct manuals and Milton's divorce tracts; public and private women's writing; royalist satire on Oliver Cromwell's upstart household; images of Charles II as son, father, and king; and Milton's representation of marriage, maternity, and the domestic in Paradise Lost as a response to and critique of Stuart propaganda.

Director: Laura Lunger Knoppers is Associate Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University. She is author of Historicizing Milton: Spectacle, Power, and Poetry in Restoration England (1994) and of Constructing Cromwell: Ceremony, Portrait, and Print, 1645–1661 (2000). She is currently working on a book-length study of representations of Charles I and Henrietta Maria.