Online Conversazione ~ All the Single Ladies

Professor Linda McClain and Professor Allison Tait will talk on the subject ‘All the Single Ladies: Women Autonomy, and Alternate Households in the Novels of Anthony Trollope.

Linda McClain is the Robert Kent Professor of Law at Boston University. She writes and teaches in the areas of family law and gender and law and is the author of several books, most recently Who’s the Bigot? Learning from Conflicts over Marriage and Civil Rights Law (Oxford University Press, 2020). Her first introduction to Trollope was The Warden. She recently published an article about “the woman question” in the Palliser novels and is hoping to begin a book-length project on Trollope’s novels.

Allison Tait is professor of law and associate dean of faculty at the University of Richmond (Virginia, USA) where she teaches trusts and estates, family law, law & inequality, and feminist legal theory. Professor Tait joined the University of Richmond Law faculty in 2015, after receiving her JD and PhD in French literature at Yale University and clerking for the Connecticut Supreme Court. Her research addresses the regulation of family and household economies, particularly as organized through marriage and inheritance, and takes up questions about the ways that family wealth rules help to embed difference along the axes of gender, race, and class. She has also written about these topics from a law and literature perspective, looking at Anthony Trollope, Henry James, and others.

All the Single Ladies

Women, Autonomy, and Alternate Households in the Novels of Anthony Trollope

In a recent report, “Love Matters,” the archbishops of Canterbury and York said that “single people must be valued at the heart of our society.” This statement, a modern call to value those living outside of marriage, represents a reminder that marital ordering is not the only social ordering. Speaking to this point, Trollope’s novels depict—along with their many marital households—a robust set of curiously female, nonmarital households that vary in form but include widows living on their own or with children, unmarried sisters, female companions coordinating their daily lives, and marriage-resisting “old maids.” This paper considers the presence and operation of these households and the kinds of social orderings Trollope imagined as available to women outside of marital ordering.

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