McKeon, Michael

McKeon, Michael

The Secret History of Domesticity: Public, Private, and the Division of Knowledge

  • Published Date: John Hopkins University Press, 2005

Michael McKeon

altTaking English culture as its representative sample, The Secret History of Domesticity asks how the modern notion of the public-private relation emerged in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Treating that relation as a crucial instance of the modern division of knowledge, Professor Michael McKeon narrates its pre-history along with that of its essential component, domesticity.

This narrative draws upon the entire spectrum of English people's experience. At the most public extreme are political developments like the formation of civil society over against the state, the rise of contractual thinking, and the devolution of absolutism from monarch to individual subject. The middle range of experience takes in the influence of Protestant and scientific thought, the printed publication of the private, the conceptualization of virtual publics, society, public opinion, the market,and the capitalization of production, the decline of the domestic economy, and the increase in the sexual division of labor. The most private pole of experience involves the privatization of marriage, the family, and the household, and the complex entanglement of femininity, interiority, subjectivity, and sexuality.

Professor McKeon accounts for how the relationship between public and private experience first became intelligible as a variable interaction of distinct modes of being - not a static dichotomy, but a tool to think with. Richly illustrated with nearly 100 images, including paintings, engravings, woodcuts, and a representative selection of architectural floor plans for domestic interiors, this volume reads graphic forms to emphasize how susceptible the public-private relation was to concrete and spatial representation. Professor McKeon is similarly attentive to how literary forms evoked a tangible sense of public-private relations, among them figurative imagery, allegorical narration, parody, the author-character-reader dialectic, aesthetic distance, and free indirect discourse. He also finds a structural analogue for the emergence of the modern public-private relation in the conjunction of what contemporaries called the "secret history" and the domestic novel.

A capacious and synthetic historical investigation, The Secret History of Domesticity exemplifies how the methods of literary interpretation and historical analysis can inform and enrich one another.

Theory of the Novel: A Historical Approach

  • Published Date: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000

Michael McKeon (Editor)

altProfessor Michael McKeon, author of The Origins of the English Novel, 1600-1740, here assembles a collection of influential essays on the theory of the novel. Carefully chosen selections from Frye, Benjamin, Levi-Strauss, Lukacs, Bakhtin, and other prominent theorists explore the historical significance of the novel as a genre, from its early beginnings to its modern variations in the postmodern novel and postcolonial novel.

Offering a generous selection of key theoretical texts for students and scholars alike, Theory of the Novel also presents a provocative argument for studying the genre. In his introduction to the volume and in headnotes to each section, Professor McKeon argues that genre theory and history provide the best approach to understanding the novel. All the selections in this anthology date from the twentieth century--most from the last forty years--and represent the attempts of different theorists, and different theoretical schools, to describe the historical stages of the genre's formal development.

The Origins of the English Novel, 1600-1740

  • Published Date: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987

Michael McKeon
Fifteenth Anniversary Edition

altIn this book, Professor Michael McKeon combines historical analysis and readings of extraordinarily diverse texts to reconceive the foundations of the dominant genre of the modern era. Challenging prevailing theories that tie the origins of the novel to the ascendancy of "realism" and the "middle class," Professor McKeon argues that this new genre arose in response to the profound instability of literary and social categories. Between 1600 and 1740, momentous changes took place in European attitudes toward truth in narrative and toward virtue in the individual and the social order. The novel emerged, he contends, as a cultural instrument designed to engage the epistemological and social crises of the age.

The Fifteenth Anniversary Edition of The Origins of the English Novel features a new introduction in which Professor McKeon reflects on the considerable response and commentary the book has attracted since its publication by describing dialectical method and by applying it to early modern notions of gender.