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Abigail and John AdamsThe Americanization of Sensibility$
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G. J. Barker-Benfield

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780226037431

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226037448.001.0001

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Social Circles and the Reformation of Female Manners

Social Circles and the Reformation of Female Manners

(p.114) Chapter 4 Social Circles and the Reformation of Female Manners
Abigail and John Adams
University of Chicago Press

This chapter, which examines the views of John and Abigail Adams on social circles and the reformation of female manners, explains that in the late seventeenth century, women in Britain initiated the enjoyment of heterosocial minglings in a wider circle, which helped elevate the value of domesticity. Women's pleasure-seeking coincided with other forms of self-assertion, some of which were expressly feminist. The chapter also contends that women's confrontation with male hostility and predation was emblematized by the contemporary preoccupation with “virtue in distress,” which was the central trope of cultures of sensibility.

Keywords:   social circles, female manners, John Adams, Abigail Adams, heterosocial mingling, value of domesticity, self-assertion, cultures of sensibility, male hostility

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