- Department: History
- Module co-ordinator: Dr. Catriona Kennedy
- Credit value: 20 credits
- Credit level: M
- Academic year of delivery: 2021-22
- See module specification for other years: 2022-23
From the lavish retinues of liveried staff kept by the most affluent establishments to the single ‘drudge’ employed in more modest households, domestic servants were a ubiquitous feature of social and domestic life in the long eighteenth century. Domestic service was the single largest category of female employment throughout this period and as many as sixty per cent of the population aged 15 to 24 may have been employed in this role at any one time. Servants and the ‘servant problem’ were a constant subject of debate and discussion as masters and mistresses lamented that domestics were venal, dishonest and incompetent and not as good as they used to be. Yet, at the same time, the virtuous heroine of one of the greatest literary successes of the age, Samuel Richardson’s novel Pamela (1740), was a servant, whose virtue was rewarded with marriage to her master.
In this module, we will draw on the rich and expanding scholarship on the social, cultural and literary history of domestic service and a diverse array of contemporary writing about, by and for servants, as well as visual representations, court records and other archival material. Among the questions we will consider are: How should we understand the evolving relationship between servants and their employers in this period? Were they part of the extended household family, or agents on the labour market with a clear sense of their contractual rights and obligations? What did masters and mistresses think and feel about their servants and vice versa? How might the inclusion of domestic service and servants change how we write the histories of the labour and the working class? How did the master-servant relationship inform thinking about social, political and racial hierarchies in this period? And, in this unequal relationship, could servants wield power?
|A||Spring Term 2021-22|
The module aims to:
After completing this module students should have:
Students will attend eight weekly two-hour seminars in weeks 2-9.
The provisional outline for the module is as follows:
1. The family, the household and domestic servants.
2. The ‘servant problem’.
3. Migration, mobility and ‘life cycle’ service.
4. Sexy footmen and vulnerable maids: gender and sexual relations.
5. Scribbling servants: servants’ reading and writing.
6. Theorizing domestic service: politics, economics and the law.
7. Servants in rebellion: eighteenth-century Ireland.
8. Servants/slaves, race and empire.
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Students will complete a 2,000-word essay for formative assessment, due in week 6 or 7 of the spring term, for which they will receive an individual tutorial. They will then submit a 4,000-word assessed essay for summative assessment in week 1 of the summer term.
For further details about assessed work, students should refer to the Statement of Assessment for Taught Postgraduate Programmes.
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Following their formative assessment task, students will receive written feedback consisting of comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission. They will also receive verbal feedback at an individual tutorial. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their formative work during their tutor’s student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.
For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. Supervisors are available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment for Taught Postgraduate Programmes.
For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading: