Home, Nature, and the Feminine Ideal
Geographies of the Interior and of Empire
Take three things: the home, nature, and the feminine ideal—a notional and perfected femininity. Constitute them as inexorably and universally connected. Enrol them in diverse strategies and tactics that create varied anatomo-politics of the body and biopolitics of the population. Enlist those three things as the “handmaidens” of the government of individuals and groups, places and spaces, and comings and goings. Focus some effort on the periodical press, and on producing and disseminating narratives, discourses, and practices that relate specifically to health and well-being. Deploy those texts and shape those contexts in ways that affect flesh and bone, psychology and social conduct, and the spatial organization and relational dynamics of dwellings and streets, settlements and regions, and states and empires. Stretch these activities over the Anglophone world—from the epicentres of the United Kingdom and the United States to Australia or Canada, New Zealand or India—and extend their reach over the whole of the long nineteenth century. Such are the subjects of this work, in which Elaine Stratford draws from governmentality, the geohumanities, and geocriticism to converse with an extensive archive that profoundly shaped our engagements with home, nature, and the feminine ideal, deeply influenced our collective capacity to flourish, and powerfully constituted diverse geographies of the interior and of empire that still affect us.