The Reformed Ideals of Domesticity in the Early Twentieth Century Roman Catholic Advice Literature

By: Dominika Gruziel  

I argue that at the turn of the XIX and XX century the Roman Catholic reformers proposed a new habitus of domesticity. The presentation discusses how domestic labor was simultaneously defamiliarized and professionalized, politicized and sanctified in the Catholic advice literature for the homemakers. Redefined as a tool of women’s spiritual development and worship as well as knowledge based, measurable in capitalist economy terms, household activities blurred the boundaries between religious and secular practices, between intellectual, corporal and spiritual actions, and between the private/unproductive/unpaid and public/productive/paid spheres. The affirmative revaluation of domesticity was not merely another idiosyncrasy of Roman Catholicism, confirming its anomalous status in the modern period. Instead, the presentation proposes to view the “new” Catholic domesticity as analogous to contemporary philosophical and artistic interventions against those strands of modernity that celebrated the eventful at the expanse of the ordinary.

Education, Gender, Domesticity
Religious Community and Socialization
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dominika Gruziel