Domesticity: Home, Housing and Household
25th Annual Medieval Studies Conference
Saturday March 12-Sunday March 13, 2005
Empty Household: Women, Production, and Gender
Conflict at the End of the Middle Ages
Derrick Higginbotham, Columbia University
My paper investigates the theatrical representation of women and their relationship to the disappearance of high-status productive labor from the domestic sphere in late medieval England. During the commercial revolution, a shift in production occurred in which the bulk of commodity production for local sale moves from its traditional location in the household to other locations, such as shops in growing market districts or outside the walls of the city where the costs of production were cheaper for the master-artisan overseeing production. This long-term social process of emptying the household of socially valued production initiates the creation of a supposedly autonomous domestic sphere for women, a household sphere that is materially and symbolically over-determined by consumption and a productive labor that has fallen in social status (Howell 33).
Howell, Martha. Women, Production, and Patriarchy
in Late Medieval Cities. Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1986.
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