Project Details


Designing Domesticity is an AHRC-funded project examining domestic advice literature from 1945 to the present. The Designing Domesticity project forms part of the work of the tVAD Research Group in its work on Relationships between Text, Narrative and Image.

Designing Domesticity asks: what does advice literature since 1970 reveal about ideals of domesticity? The project contributes to knowledge and understanding of domesticity 1945-present by analysing domestic advice literature as part of a broader category of instructional consumer discourses. Designing Domesticity subjects domestic advice literature and related domestic and consumer discourses to close textual and visual analysis. It is argued that instructional discourse has either been regarded as unreliable or used as an accurate historical record, when analysis of domestic advice as a genre of constructed ideals is appropriate and useful.

Outputs include a monograph (Routledge, 2013); two special issues of the Journal of Design History - 'Domestic Design Advice', edited by Grace Lees-Maffei and 'Professionalizing Interior Design 1870-1970', co-edited with Professor Anne Wealleans (Massey); three journal articles, publication in conference proceedings, two displays, and conference contributions.

Key findings

Designing Domesticity contributes to understanding of domesticity in the period from 1945 a consideration of the relationship between the social and the material in the home as depicted in the 'real ideals' of domestic advice literature. The monograph I have under consideration with a publisher demonstrates a model for the use of domestic advice literature for historical understanding, as a scholarly contribution to histories of design, culture and society, literary, popular culture and material culture studies, women's and gender studies and family and youth studies. It will enhance understanding of representations of, and address to, the growing middle class, the post-war housewife and the teenager since 1945. This is the first serious scholarly analysis of domestic advice literature in Britain from 1945. It posits a long-standing 'domestic dialogue' between the UK and the USA, which reflects publishing practices in the two regions, as a useful contribution to transatlantic and area studies.
Effective start/end date1/09/0731/01/08


  • UKRI - Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): £15,179.00


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