Knowing Their Place: Domestic Service in Twentieth Century Britain

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9780199572946: Knowing Their Place: Domestic Service in Twentieth Century Britain

Historians have traditionally seen domestic service as an obsolete or redundant sector from the middle of the twentieth century. Knowing Their Place challenges this by linking the early twentieth century employment of maids and cooks to later practices of employing au pairs, mothers' helps, and cleaners. Lucy Delap tells the story of lives and labour within twentieth century British homes, from great houses to suburbs and slums, and charts the interactions of servants and employers along with the intense controversies and emotions they inspired.

Knowing Their Place examines the employment of men and migrant workers, as well as the role of laughter and erotic desire in shaping domestic service. The memory of domestic service and the role of the past in shaping and mediating the present is examined through heritage and televisual sources, from Upstairs, Downstairs toThe 1900 House. Drawing from advice manuals, magazines, novels, cinema, memoirs, feminist tracts, and photographs, this fascinating book will be of particular interest to scholars and students of Modern history, English literature, anthropology, cultural studies, social geography, gender studies, and women's studies. It points to new directions in cultural history through its engagement in innovative areas such as the history of emotions and cultural memory. Through its attention to the contemporary rise in the employment of domestic workers, Knowing Their Place sets 'modern' Britain in a new and compelling historical context.

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About the Author:


Lucy Delap is a social and cultural historian with research interests in feminism, class, religion, and gender. Her book The Feminist Avant-Garde: Transatlantic Encounters of the early twentieth century was published in 2007 and won the 2008 Women's History Network Prize. She co-edited The Politics of Domestic Authority in Britain since 1800 (Palgrave 2009), contributed to Feminist Media History (Palgrave 2010), and has published widely on British and American feminism.

Review:


"[A] wonderful addition to the growing body of literature on the British domestic sphere...Highly recommended."--CHOICE


"Lucy Delap's book is a timely and important contribution to [histories of domestic service]...Knowing Their Place is a highly effective and readable history of servants and a history of ideas and debates about service. It is also a conceptually sophisticated work that picks up and extends a host of the recent insights developed in histories of emotion, performance, and memory."--Journal of Modern History


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