Conduct Books in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism: American Behavioral Literature: Cultivating National Identity - Essay

Arthur M. Schlesinger (essay date 1946)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Schlesinger, Arthur M. “Republican Etiquette.” In Learning How to Behave: A Historical Study of American Etiquette Books, pp. 15-26. New York: Macmillan Company, 1946.

[In the following essay, Schlesinger surveys American behavioral literature, maintaining that behavioral literature became very popular in America after the late 1820s because the rising classes wanted reference sources for joining polite society. Schlesinger notes that this literature either instructed manners as a set of defined rules, in the manner of Lord Chesterfield, or it more traditionally and conservatively suggested that one's manners demonstrate one's character.]

A social code,...

(The entire section is 4157 words.)

Kathryn Kish Sklar (essay date 1973)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Sklar, Kathryn Kish. “The Building of a Glorious Temple, 1843.” In Catharine Beecher: A Study in American Domesticity, pp. 151-67. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1973.

[In the following essay, Sklar examines Beecher's Treatise on Domestic Economy, a comprehensive handbook in which she discusses house-building, setting a table, cleaning, gardening, cooking, health and first aid, and childcare, and asserts that women are restricted to the domestic sphere because this promotes the stability of society.]

Insofar as Catharine Beecher's career can be said to have had a widespread and immediate impact on her society, that effect was achieved...

(The entire section is 9142 words.)

Karen Halttunen (essay date 1982)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Halttunen, Karen. “Sentimental Culture and the Problem of Etiquette.” In Confidence Men and Painted Women: A Study of Middle-Class Culture in America, 1830-1870, pp. 92-123. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1982.

[In the following excerpt, Halttunen suggests that in the early nineteenth century, the ideology of manners had changed in America—largely due to the publication and influence of English Lord Chesterfield's Letters to His Son—from demonstrations of gracious consideration of others, to a rather self-centered cultivation of an appearance of good breeding. Halttunen stresses that the central difficulty of etiquette is that its stringent rules of behavior...

(The entire section is 9129 words.)