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Description - Comfort and Judgement: Nineteenth Century Advice Manuals and the Scripting of Australian Identity by Gene Bawden

'My journey to this book is the culmination of a long-held fascination with the history of Australia's domestic interiors. Even as a child in a remote, desert-bound Queensland town, far from the acknowledged centres of culture, I understood the power of this interior space as a refuge from the extremities of the outside world ... What could not be tamed on the outside could be subdued within a manageable framework of highly gendered domestic performance inside. As I sifted through the pages of Australia's nineteenth-century advice manuals on the subjects of domestic economy and home decoration, I was struck by the continuum of the interior and its purpose: as a refuge to nurture both comfort and confidence.'
Since the earliest days of colonisation white Australians have sought solace within the domestic interior. Faced with a disconcerting and entirely alien environment, the replication of English interiors provided the colony's settler communities with the tether they sought to a guiding homeland and its governing rules of domestic practices. Though Australian identity is aligned, truthfully or otherwise, to the 'masculine' exterior - the bush, the outback and the beach - the 'feminised' interior provides an alternative site of identity, potentially closer to truth than the heroic fictions of colonial frontier narratives. Comfort and Judgement provides a richer, deeper understanding of the Australian home than has been realised before.

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