Author: Stephen Vider
Publication type: Book review
Source: SIGNS, 44 (1):258-261; 10.1086/698286 FAL 2018
Abstract: Susan Fraiman’s insightful and lively study Extreme Domesticity: A View from the Margins stages an intervention in literary and cultural analyses of home in American and British culture. Since the 1970s, a major line of scholarship, including works by Ann Douglas, Nancy Armstrong, Gillian Brown, Lauren Berlant, Amy Kaplan, and Laura Wexler, has regarded domestic space as a site of conformity, sentimentality, and conservatism, complicit with social control and imperialism.1 Fraiman endeavors to complicate and complement such readings: in six chapters, she compiles an idiosyncratic and instructive archive of domestic representations to rethink home as a space “far more heterogeneous, unstable, and politically contradictory” (7). Fraiman’s goal is less to propose a new overarching theory of domesticity than to recuperate home as a site of study. The domestic ideal—white, middle-class, heterosexual, marital, and procreative—exists here primarily as a foil for the more varied and creative ways home is actually made.