In Owning Up: Privacy, Property, and Belonging in U.S. Women’s Life Writing, Katherine Adams sets out to explore “the consequences of imagining human existence in terms of two antagonistic and simultaneous conditions—we are owned, we are not owned— and of incessantly rehearsing the drama of passage between them” (p. 203). Adams is particularly concerned with “how such representations, and the fantasy they project of self-(non)-possession—that is, of self-possession without self-alienation—intersect with questions about democratic freedom and nationhood” (p. 203). Locating her discussion in the culturally unstable period of 1840–90, Adams moves from the antebellum context of romantic nationalism to the late nineteenth century’s vexed lament for a perceived loss of privacy.
The New England Quarterly
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Posted Online February 19, 2010
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Owning Up: Privacy, Property, and Belonging in U.S. Women's Life Writing. By Katherine Adams. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Pp. viii, 264. $65.00.) Laura Laffrado, The New England Quarterly 2010 83:1, 155-158