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Virtuous Foundlings and Excessive Bastards

Virtuous Foundlings and Excessive Bastards Marilyn Francus West Virginia University In Bastards and Foundlings: Illegitimacy in Eighteenth-Century England (Ohio State, 2005), Lisa Zunshine works through the issues of illegitimacy, class, and gender in eighteenth-century England with efficiency and insight. For a comparatively brief text (172 pages, plus notes), Zunshine's analysis is wideranging and provocative in its implications for our understanding of family dynamics in the period. This study challenges the conflation of bastards and foundlings in literature and scholarship, by parsing these vexed, often mutually defining relationships. The slippage between the labels of "bastard" and "foundling" is considerable, for people often assumed that foundlings were bastards, as illegitimacy was a primary motive in abandoning a child. Parentlessness left children open to the stigma of bastardy, so that orphans also were often presumed to be illegitimate. That the assumption of illegitimacy was not necessarily true (for there were legitimate orphans and foundlings) allows Zunshine to analyze status as a construct, which leads her to a spectrum of illegitimacy: illegitimate children, legitimate children presumed illegitimate, illegitimate children presumed legitimate, and so on. Zunshine identifies four socioeconomic narratives of illegitimacy in the period: the bastard as a threatening pretender to the legal family's property; the illegitimacy http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Eighteenth Century University of Pennsylvania Press

Virtuous Foundlings and Excessive Bastards

The Eighteenth Century , Volume 49 (1) – Apr 26, 2008

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Texas Tech University Press
ISSN
1935-0201
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Marilyn Francus West Virginia University In Bastards and Foundlings: Illegitimacy in Eighteenth-Century England (Ohio State, 2005), Lisa Zunshine works through the issues of illegitimacy, class, and gender in eighteenth-century England with efficiency and insight. For a comparatively brief text (172 pages, plus notes), Zunshine's analysis is wideranging and provocative in its implications for our understanding of family dynamics in the period. This study challenges the conflation of bastards and foundlings in literature and scholarship, by parsing these vexed, often mutually defining relationships. The slippage between the labels of "bastard" and "foundling" is considerable, for people often assumed that foundlings were bastards, as illegitimacy was a primary motive in abandoning a child. Parentlessness left children open to the stigma of bastardy, so that orphans also were often presumed to be illegitimate. That the assumption of illegitimacy was not necessarily true (for there were legitimate orphans and foundlings) allows Zunshine to analyze status as a construct, which leads her to a spectrum of illegitimacy: illegitimate children, legitimate children presumed illegitimate, illegitimate children presumed legitimate, and so on. Zunshine identifies four socioeconomic narratives of illegitimacy in the period: the bastard as a threatening pretender to the legal family's property; the illegitimacy

Journal

The Eighteenth CenturyUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Apr 26, 2008

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