The keyword “domestic” conjures up several different yet linked meanings. It evokes the private home and all its accouterments and, in a secondary fashion, hired household help. It also refers to the “national” as opposed to the “foreign” and to the “tame” as opposed to the “natural” or “wild.” American studies and cultural studies scholarship has only recently begun to think through the connections among these usages of the term and to make visible the racial and class bias of much of the scholarship on domesticity in relation to the United States.

Theorizing the domestic has been integral to many academic disciplines: architecture and design, anthropology, sociology, history, economics, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and literary and cultural criticism. Expressed in binary terms such as male/female, public/private, and production/reproduction, a relatively stable home/work dichotomy has formed the basis of scholarly writing on domesticity across these disciplines. Newer studies of domesticity are more attentive …

This essay may be found on page 89 of the printed volume.

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