DOMESTIC SERVICE AND DOMESTIC SPACE IN LONDON, 1750-1800
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This thesis explores the relationship of servants to the domestic spaces in which they lived and laboured. Although the place of servants within the ‘household family’ is well established, servants rarely feature as major characters in the literature on house, home, and domestic life. This thesis reintegrates servants into the contested narratives of the eighteenth-century space, and thinks-through the meaning of that space for the servants who lived and worked within it. The first two chapters offer an overtly bottom-up approach to the domestic space, which unapologetically shifts the focus from householder to servant, and from the much-examined world of parlour and drawing room to the neglected spaces of kitchen and garret. The first chapter, on the kitchen, outlines the significance of the kitchen and servants’ work to the domestic project. Rather than a space of separation and segregation, this chapter suggests the kitchen space managed ‘contact’ between household members and between the household and the outside world. The second chapter, on the garret, sketches-out the material parameters of the spaces allocated for servants to sleep, and suggests they offer insight into the ways in which the domestic space shaped the identities of servants – not only as social subordinates, but as gendered members of the labouring poor. The third chapter, on servants’ boxes considers the material items owned by servants in place, and the manner in which these items were accommodated within the domestic space. The focus on the box allows servants’ life histories to be written into the domestic space; items stored in boxes served as reminders of the past, and ‘imaginaries’ for the future. The fourth and final chapter thinks more explicitly about the material world inhabited by servants, demonstrates the significance of servants’ interaction with objects typically conceived as props of genteel domesticity, and reintegrates these objects into narratives of work, labour and industry.
- Theses