Identity and Authority

Karen Harvey

in The Little Republic

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199533848
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740978 | DOI:

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Social and Cultural History


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Arguments for a decline in ‘old‐style patriarchy’ rest to some extent on the view that a new individualized self — created partly from new forms of autobiographical writing — emerged during the eighteenth century, militating against the authority of the domestic patriarch. This chapter decouples personal identity from an individualist ‘self’. It examines not the new printed autobiography but men's manuscript writing of both narrative and non‐narrative form. The chapter shows that men's identities were rooted in the domestic. It argues that the house — as a community, a concept and a physical space — was critical to private and public constructions of self‐identity for men as they constructed a ‘family self’. In rooting personal identity in the house and family, individual men accessed authority both within and without the house.

Keywords: individualism; self; interiority; authority; autobiography; narrative; writing; family; architecture; space

Chapter.  17450 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Social and Cultural History

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