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Life After Death: Gender, Idealized Virtues, and the Obituary in Eighteenth-Century Newspapers

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Chapter Summary

This chapter quarries the content of the obituary notices contained within the pages of the eighteenth-century provincial presses of Exeter and Norwich. For an obituary, the author has taken notices of a death that include some description of the personal attributes of the deceased. The aim of the chapter is fourfold: to understand the nature and purpose of obituaries; to identify universal cardinal virtues and measure any gendered relational nature in those virtues; to chart any changes in emphasis in the types of values lauded over the period; and, finally, to assess the significance obituaries themselves may have had in shaping both male and female identities. The evidence for class solidarity coming together in a convergence of values can be found in the nature of the obituary discourse itself. Of course, this newspaper discourse was an over-blown fiction, not a gravy stain in sight.

Keywords: gendered qualities; moral virtues; newspaper discourse; provincial obituaries

10.1163/9789004276864_011
/content/books/b9789004276864s011
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