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Title: The intimacy of Christmas : festive celebration in England, c.1750-1914
Author: Armstrong, Neil R.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3428 5903
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2004
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This thesis examines the development of the Christmas festival in England between the mid eighteenth century and the First World War. It argues that 'invented tradition' models of explaining this development, that place a great emphasis on a Victorian construction of a 'modern' Christmas, are an inadequate means of conveying the processes of continuity and change at work. It offers instead an alternative paradigm, termed 'Christmas intimacy', which describes the heightened emotions, feelings, and sentiments that can be experienced during the festival. Whilst this places emphasis on the role of home and family, intimacy is also employed to examine the Christmas experienced in commercial, civic, educational, philanthropic and religious contexts. The relationship between public and private is considered to be complementary and symbiotic, in which performance plays an important mediating role. The thesis is divided into five chapters. The first chapter is concerned with the celebration of Christmas amongst family and friends, in terms of gatherings, sending Christmas wishes, gender roles at Christmas, the experience of children, Christmas presents, decorating and domestic space, and theatricals and music. The chapter concludes by examining the role of servants, and the replication of familial ideals of Christmas within Victorian institutions. Chapter two explores the important religious context, revealing how religion helped shape, but also became obscured by, Christmas intimacy. The third chapter shows how a distinct public culture of Christmas developed in the second half of the nineteenth century, in terms of charity, entertainment, street culture and temperance. Chapter four recognises that leisure time was an important component of Christmas intimacy, and examines the cultures of Christmas that were available in the workplace, schools and associations, as well as highlighting the experiences of shop assistants and postmen, two types of workers who bore much of the physical burden of Christmas intimacy. The final chapter examines the way in which issues of consumption became important to the intimacy of Christmas, with particular emphasis on shopping, advertising and travel.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available