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Adopting America: Childhood, Kinship, and National Identity in Literature$
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Carol J. Singley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199779390

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199779390.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 10 May 2021

Plotting Adoption in Nineteenth-Century Fiction

Plotting Adoption in Nineteenth-Century Fiction

(p.83) 4 Plotting Adoption in Nineteenth-Century Fiction
Adopting America: Childhood, Kinship, and National Identity in Literature

Carol J. Singley (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Adoption fiction flourished in the mid-nineteenth century, reflecting a new republican conception of family as a nonhierarchical grouping of individuals whose will to be together is as important as blood ties. Writers enlisted the trope of adoption to set the terms upon which a white middle class would develop. The little known novel, Laura Huntley, by Maria Browne (1850), addresses anxieties about immigration and urbanization through a couple’s adoption of an abandoned infant. The novel also reflects changes in child rearing practices and the shift from Calvinist to more sentimental theology when Laura’s adoptive parents curb her misbehavior and guide her to meet expectations for piety, obedience, and respect consonant with those of the developing nation.

Keywords:   Maria Browne, Laura Huntley, sentimentality, Calvinist, middle class, birth mother, adoptive parent, Bildungsroman, law, immigration, mobility, democratic individualism, gender

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