Susan Petigru King and the culture of antebellum women in high life
Mace, Nancy R.
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A gap remains in mass communication scholarship that examines periodical fiction and the portrayal of women during the mid-nineteenth century. This study examines the portrayal of high society women in the short narratives of Susan Petigru King. Secondary research created a theoretical foundation, particularly Barbara Welter’s concept of True Womanhood, and secondary research on fictional examples provide a basis for analyzing King’s narratives with mainstream magazines of the time. This study found that True Womanhood ideology is not the only female image posited in periodical fiction during the antebellum era. In fact, King frequently challenged such concepts throughout her work as a way to challenge the social mores and culture of high society. Illustrating nascent feminism, King challenged the restrictions placed on women in high society through moral story telling, and denigrating the marital experience.