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Love and the Working Class

The Inner Worlds of Nineteenth Century Americans

Lystra, Karen (Professor of American Studies Emerita, Professor of American Studies Emerita, California State University, Fullerton)

Love and the Working Class

Love and the Working Class

The Inner Worlds of Nineteenth Century Americans

Love and the Working Class

 

Love and the Working Class is a unique look at the emotions of hard-living, racially diverse nineteenth-century Americans who were often on the cusp of literacy. Wrongly assumed to be inarticulate on paper, these laboring folk highly valued letters and, however difficult it was, wrote to stay connected to those they loved.


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Beschrijving Love and the Working Class

Love and the Working Class is a unique look at the emotions of hard-living, nineteenth-century Americans who were often on the cusp of literacy. These laboring folk highly valued letters and, however difficult it was, wrote to stay connected to those they loved. This book displays the personal expression of factory hands, manual laborers, peddlers, coopers, carpenters, lumbermen, miners, tanners, haulers, tailors, seamstresses, laundresses, domestics, sharecroppers, independent farmers, and common soldiers and their wives. Entering the “anonymous corners” of these people's lives through letters, we can see their humor, grit, hope, heartache, and endurance, and grasp what they believed and felt about themselves, their kinfolk, and their friends.

As much as possible, these working-class Americans living in the nineteenth century speak to contemporary readers in their own words. Often armed with only a third or fourth grade education, they could read but had limited instruction in writing. Yet they sat down to compose a letter, often spurred by a range of experience including the Gold Rush, westward expansion, slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation, and what was arguably the most important event in nineteenth-century America, the Civil War. During the war, poor, undereducated soldiers and their families wrote letters in a quantity never before seen in American history.

Using letters written to parents, siblings, husbands, wives, friends, and potential mates between 1830 and 1880, Karen Lystra identifies the shared conceptions of love and practices of courtship and marriage within a racially diverse population of free working-class people born in America. Readers can listen to their voices as they flirt, act as intermediaries in hometown courtships, express non-romantic love to their mates, tease each other, and voice their hopes for the future. Through these personal letters, poor, minimally schooled Americans show us how they felt about love and how they created meaningful attachments in their uncertain lives.


ISBN
9780197514221
Pagina's
352
Verschijnt
NUR
740
Druk
1
Uitvoering
Hardback
Taal
Engels
Uitgever
OUP USA

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