The longest-running war is the battle over how women should behave. Conduct Books and the History of the Ideal Woman examines seven centuries of advice literature, analyzing the print origins of gendered expectations that continue to inform our thinking about women's roles and abilities. Close readings of numerous conduct manuals from Britain and America explain and contextualize the legacy of sexism as represented in prescriptive writing for women from 1372 to the present.
Previously published in hardcover, this peer-reviewed book combines textual literary analysis with a social history sensibility while remaining accessible to both expert and novice. Conduct Books and the History of the Ideal Woman will help listeners understand the ongoing debate about the often-contradictory guidelines for female behavior.