Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
Tamara Hunt Capstone Project for the Master of Arts in Liberal StudiesFeminism and Political Economy: Harriet Martineau on Nineteenth-Century Irish Women, Tamara L. Hunt, University of Southern Indiana Abstract: During her 1852 tour of famine-stricken Ireland, Harriet Martineau wrote that so many Irish women performed manual labor that it would take time for them to “find their natural place as housewives,” adding that “there is abundant evidence that they have not sunk from that position, but rather risen from a lower one than they now fill.” Given Martineau’s advocacy for women’s rights, this statement seems to be the antithesis of feminism. But she was a political economist as well as a feminist, and this combination gave her a unique perspective. Hers is the only contemporary analysis by a political economist that discusses the intrinsic value of women’s domestic labor, and she argued that Ireland’s economic recovery required a stable domestic economy in every home. In effect, she argued that women had a significant and identifiable role to play in the rebuilding of Ireland’s economy, one which elevated women’s domestic role by giving it intrinsic value in economic and social reform. False News, Commerce, and Seditious Libel in Early 18th Century England, Tamara L. Hunt, University of Southern Indiana Abstract: Debates about “fake news” in 18th century England focused on its commercial and legal implications. A pamphlet of the 1720s suggested coffeehouses print their own newspapers to avoid the “Falshoods and the idlest Fictions” published in in existing papers. Inaccurate or outright false news misled merchants and traders who gathered in coffeehouses and potentially damaged the country’s economy, and editors increasingly promoted their papers as containing accurate accounts. To stifle its critics, the government used seditious libel laws to charge them with publishing “false, seditious, scandalous and malicious” news, even if its reports were factually accurate. For decades, British courts had ruled that truth could not be used as a defense against a charge of libel, but since credibility was becoming an important selling-point for newspapers (and a key to their financial success), their proprietors began to answer allegations of seditious libel with claims that what they published was true, a concept that would ultimately be accepted in law. Thus, the rise of a commercial society and its demand for accurate news reporting contributed to limits on the government’s ability to stifle its critics in the press. Spreading the Word of Reform: The New Harmony Gazette, 1825-1828, Tamara L. Hunt, University of Southern Indiana Abstract: One of the first acts of the Robert Owen’s communal society in New Harmony, Indiana, was the establishment of its newspaper, the New Harmony Gazette. From the first issue, it featured lengthy accounts of Owen’s speeches, essays, and ideas about social reform. Since New Harmony residents were already familiar with Owen’s ideas and had relocated to New Harmony as a result, it seems clear that these reports were as much aimed at those outside the Owenite community as the local residents. In fact, the paper’s distribution network meant that these ideas spread far beyond the Indiana frontier, and the paper’s editors and correspondents debated Owenite ideas with peers writing for papers scattered across the country, including New York, Boston, and Washington, DC, as well as regional papers in Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri. In effect, the New Harmony Gazette This was similar to the growing number of religious newspapers of the era, with their focus on proselytizing via the printed word.