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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Fall 2004

AMS 370 • Domestic Economies: Prostitutes, Maids, and Nannies in Literature and Culture-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
27900 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
GAR 301

Course Description

Who cleans houses? Raises children? Provides intimacy and sex? What are these services worth within United States families and in larger society? We often place the responsibility for and site of these tasks within the ideal nuclear family and suggest that the ideal house, home, and family are reality for the American story. But what if we tried to tell the story of home and family from the perspective of the people we are not supposed to see? From the first best-selling novel in the country in which a girl almost becomes a prostitute, to the blockbuster film Pretty Woman, prostitutes are both glamorized and stigmatized. From slavery’s Mammies to the undocumented worker scandals that have derailed presidential appointments, nannies are cast as the invisible glue that helps households run, even as they are often treated as disposable and unmanageable. From early home economics classes to Martha Stewart and companies such as Merry Maids, maids are constructed as both happy professionals and fall-back careers for women. This course will explore all of these underground economies in women’s lives in diverse American narratives and as a way of understanding the movement of people and money through nations, states, and neighborhoods.


Susanna Rowson, Charlotte Temple Harriet Wilson, Our Nig Charlotte Perkins Gilman, selected stories Gwendolyn Brooks, Maud Martha Mary Odem, Delinquent Daughters: Protecting and Policing Adolescent Female Sexuality Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Hochschild, Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow Readings on legalization of prostitution debates Readings on presidential appointment scandals Real Women Have Curves Pretty Woman Trading Spaces, Martha Stewart Living, Mission: Organization, Extreme House Makeovers


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