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Oceans at Home

Oceans at Home

Maritime and Domestic Fictions in Nineteenth-Century American Women's Writing

by Melissa Gniadek

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press

208 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.80 in

  • Paperback
  • 9781625345721
  • Published: August 2021


  • Hardcover
  • 9781625345738
  • Published: August 2021



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The maritime world was central to nineteenth-century America, and ideas about the ocean, seafaring, and encounters with distant peoples and places suffused the cultural imagination. Women writers who were not mariners themselves incorporated oceanic representations and concerns into their work, often through genres that were generally not associated with the sea, such as children's fiction, diaries, and female coming-of-age stories.

Melissa Gniadek explores the role of the ocean, with particular attention to the Pacific, in a diverse range of literary texts spanning the late 1820s through the mid-1860s from Lydia Maria Child, Caroline Kirkland, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth Stoddard, and Harriet Prescott Spofford. Oceans at Home shows that authors employed maritime plots and stories from distant locations to probe contemporary concerns facing the continental United States, ranging from issues of gender restrictions in the domestic sphere to the racial prejudices against indigenous peoples that lay at the heart of settler colonialism.