Wednesday, September 13, 2006

How We'll Read McKeon's Secret History, Oct. 3-5

Hello all,

Well, I checked out my library's copy of McKeon's Secret History of Domesticity, which we'll be reading Oct. 3-5, and discovered that it's . . . . really, really big. And heavy. And heavily footnoted. Frankly, I thought it merited a quarto printing with a nice leather binding, though that might have raised the price a bit too high. But you get the idea.

Here's the suitably monumental webpage from Johns Hopkins, with some early blurbs.

Undaunted, though, I'm getting ready for our Collective Reading, which I think we'll need to divide up to make sure the whole thing gets discussed in a reasonably comprehensive way across the three days of discussion. Each respondent will kick it off with a mini-essay about the segment under review, and then others will be able to follow up. Michael will definitely come in on the last day, and might be able to take up points earlier on in discussion, if his schedule permits.

I'm having trouble pasting the Table of Contents pages (Carrie, help!), but you should be able to find them via this link to

What you'll find is that Michael has conveniently divided his book into three parts, following his Introduction. The first, "The Age of Separations," runs pp. 3-322; the second, "Domestication as Form," 323-468; the third, "Secret Histories," 469-718. We'll focus on one segment at a time on October 3, 4, and 5th.

Though I haven't gone very far, the first part seems to engage with the debates over the public sphere and public opinion we've discussed here, the second seems to deal with questions of genre, and the last with that peculiar early modern genre, the secret history in all its variations.

I look forward to hearing from all of you about this very interesting book.