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Lecture 5

MUS 365 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Self-Denial, George Sand

Course Code
MUS 365
Benjamin Ordaz

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Gender & Race in Country Music
Part 1
19th Century Gender Issues 1
o The social world in 19th century American society was bifurcated “inhabited
separately by men and women” and intersected only at very defined points
o In general, the male world was found outside of the home in business and civic
affairs, while the female world was focused in the home and in and around
religious activities
o In light of these gender-defined differences, men certainly did lead
congregations from the pulpit and have the final voice in family life, but women’s
role in the management of the home, the children and religious participation
was gradually being undermined as the 18th century turned to the 19th century
o At the same time, it was a period in which change seemed inevitable and nothing
was believed impossible, whether conquering a continent or reforming a society
o Yet this was a period when change was considered a self-evident good, and
when nothing was believed impossible to a determined free will, be it the
conquest of a continent, the reform of society or the eternal salvation of all
o The contrast between these generally accepted ideals and expectations and the
real possibilities available to American women could not have been more sharply
o It is not implausible to assume that at least a minority of American women
would find ways to manifest a discontent with their comparatively passive and
constricted social role
o Only a few women in antebellum America were able, however, to openly criticize
their socially defined sexual identity
o When 19th century women wrote about their victimization at the hands of men
by physical violence, dissipation through alcohol and gambling, and the sexual
double standard applied to an out of wedlock pregnancy, they frequently placed
these issues within the wider context of religious consolation and suffering
o For example, a Miss Coxe wrote of women in 1842 that “the circumstances in
which woman has been placed are…powerfully calculated to develop and foster
those Christian virtues which the Word of God specifies as the most important
attributes of the renewed nature
o While the ideal of female self-sacrifice will change over the 19th century and
certainly in the 20th century, the mid 19th century was a period of transition and
many novels and stories acknowledged the sacrifice and suffering of women and
attempted to place it within a context that lent it some hopeful meaning
o Male literary critics continued to respond positively to works of women’s fiction
in which female characters acted in a stereotypical manner, exhibiting “Self-
sacrifice, self-control, and self-denial rather than individuality
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