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May IrwinSinging, Shouting, and the Shadow of Minstrelsy$
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Sharon Ammen

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040658

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040658.001.0001

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Unbounded Domesticity

Unbounded Domesticity

(p.115) 5 Unbounded Domesticity
May Irwin

Sharon Ammen

University of Illinois Press

This chapter looks at May Irwin’s alignment with domestic feminism as one of her strategies for success. Other actresses used domesticity to promote their professional lives, but Irwin created the most formidable pairing of these two lives. She wrote articles about the importance of women as savers, shoppers, and buyers of real estate in the new consumer capitalism of the late nineteenth century. She extolled motherhood as essential for success as an actress and she became the first celebrity chef when she published her popular cookbook in 1904. The author connects May Irwin to both the older idea of Victorian womanhood and the “New Woman” and considers the effects of the growing business of advertising, the culture of professionalism and the new field of home economics.

Keywords:   domestic feminism, consumer capitalism, celebrity chef, New Woman, advertising, home economics, professionalism

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