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Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginiaby Kathleen M. Brown
Synopses & Reviews
Kathleen Brown examines the origins of racism and slavery in British North America from the perspective of gender. Both a basic social relationship and a model for other social hierarchies, gender helped determine the construction of racial categories and the institution of slavery in Virginia. But the rise of racial slavery also transformed gender relations, including ideals of masculinity.
In response to the presence of Indians, the shortage of labor, and the insecurity of social rank, Virginia's colonial government tried to reinforce its authority by regulating the labor and sexuality of English servants and by making legal distinctions between English and African women. This practice, along with making slavery hereditary through the mother, contributed to the cultural shift whereby women of African descent assumed from lower-class English women both the burden of fieldwork and the stigma of moral corruption.
Brown's analysis extends through Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, an important juncture in consolidating the colony's white male public culture, and into the eighteenth century. She demonstrates that, despite elite planters' dominance, wives, children, free people of color, and enslaved men and women continued to influence the meaning of race and class in colonial Virginia.
[S]he has transformed even the very familiar by her original thinking and her command of recent theoretical formulations.
Signs [C]rucial to our understanding not only of gender but of race and power in colonial Virginia.
Journal of Southwest Georgia History Meticulously researched, carefully reasoned, and gracefully written, this book should be on the reading list of every historian.
American Historical Review This big book is intriguing, provocative, and deeply unsettling.
Journal of Southern History Should be a standard purchase for all academic libraries with holdings in U.S. history.
Based on the perspective of gender, this compelling study examines the origins of racism and slavery in colonial Virginia from 1676 to the eighteenth century. According to Brown, gender is both a basic social relationship and a model for social hierarchies and it therefore helped determine the construction of racial categories and the institution of slavery legally, politically, as well as socially.
About the Author
Kathleen M. Brown is assistant professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania.
Table of Contents
Illustrations and Tables
Abbreviations and Notes on the Text
Part I: Gender Frontiers
Chapter 1. Gender and English Identity on the Eve of Colonial Settlement
Chapter 2. The Anglo-Indian Gender Frontier
Chapter 3. "Good Wives" and "Nasty Wenches": Gender and Social Order in a Colonial Settlement
Part II: Engendering Racial Difference
Chapter 4. Engendering Racial Difference, 1640-1670
Chapter 5. Vile Rogues and Honorable Men: Nathaniel Bacon and the Dilemma of Colonial Masculinity
Chapter 6. From "Foul Crimes" to "Spurious Issue": Sexual Regulation and the Social Construction of Race
Chapter 7. "Born of a Free Woman": Gender and the Politics of Freedom
Part III: Class and Power in the Eighteenth Century
Chapter 8. Marriage, Class Formation, and the Performance of Male Gentility
Chapter 9. Tea Table Discourses and Slanderous Tongues: The Domestic Choreography of Female Identities
Chapter 10. Anxious Patriarchs
1. Colonial Virginia in the Middle of the Seventeenth Century
2. The Powhatans and Their Neighbors in 1607
2. Indian Woman
3. Captain John Smith
4. Powhatan Addressing His People
5. Bastardy Cases Attributed to White Servant Women by Decade, Norfolk, Lancaster, and York Counties
6. Inventory of Edward Nicken Signed by Mary Nicken
7. Westover Floor Plan, circa 1726
8. Lucy Parke Byrd
9. Virginian Luxuries
1. Successful Tax-Exemption Petitions, Norfolk, Lancaster, and York Counties
2. Slander Cases, Norfolk, Lancaster, and York Counties
3. Reported Runaway Servants and Slaves, 1643-1675, Norfolk, Lancaster, and York Counties
4. Punishments for Bastardy by White Female Servants, Norfolk, Lancaster, and York Counties
5. Interracial Bastardy Offenses by White Servant Women, 1660-1729, Norfolk, Lancaster, and York Counties
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