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Dairy Queens (Harvard Historical Studies) [Hardcover]

Meredith S. Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 36.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

11 Jan 2011 Harvard Historical Studies (Book 176)
In a lively narrative that spans more than two centuries, Meredith Martin tells the story of a royal and aristocratic building type that has been largely forgotten today: the pleasure dairy of early modern France. These garden structures - most famously the faux-rustic, white marble dairy built for Marie-Antoinette's Hameau at Versailles - have long been dismissed as the trifling follies of a reckless elite. Martin challenges such assumptions and reveals the pivotal role that pleasure dairies played in cultural and political life, especially with respect to polarizing debates about nobility, femininity, and domesticity. Together with other forms of pastoral architecture such as model farms and hermitages, pleasure dairies were crucial arenas for elite women to exercise and experiment with identity and power. Opening with Catherine de' Medici's lavish dairy at Fontainebleau (c. 1560), Martin's book explores how French queens and noblewomen used pleasure dairies to naturalize their status, display their cultivated tastes, and proclaim their virtue as nurturing mothers and capable estate managers. Pleasure dairies also provided women with a site to promote good health, by spending time in salubrious gardens and consuming fresh milk. Illustrated with a dazzling array of images and photographs, "Dairy Queens" sheds new light on architecture, self, and society in the ancient regime.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 358 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (11 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674048997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674048997
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.3 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,403,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

[A] brilliant and gorgeous new book...Until now, little has been written about the pleasure dairy and this is certainly the first I've heard of it. An explanation for its disappearance from our cultural history and consciousness is that almost all of the actual buildings no longer exist. But the pleasure dairy's gender coding and associations with female exclusivity and power is likely another reason. It is a testament to Meredith Martin's talent as both writer and scholar that the pleasure dairy has now become so vivid in my imagination, a part of our political and cultural history, that I feel as if I have always known about the phenomenon, Martin's book serving as an exquisite reminder. -- Jenny McPhee Bookslut 20110501 Marie Antoinette herding sheep and milking cows in the peasant hamlet that she built at Versailles seems the least likely subject for an essay in cultural history. Yet, as Martin shows in her stunning work of scholarship, the queen's interest in pastoral retreats--dairies in particular--was an established and complex court tradition going back to Catherine de' Medici in the 16th century. Martin argues that Catherine, a foreign consort to Henri II, and thus particularly vulnerable to the machinations of a chauvinist court, erected a dairy at her estate to ally herself to ideas of regal fertility, purity, and maternal care as a means of deflecting criticism. Later, during the reign of Louis XIV, the aristocrats who resisted the Sun King's efforts to centralize power at Versailles constructed at their country properties "pleasure dairies" and picturesque gardens as symbols of their repudiation of courtly life and affirmation of feudal order. By the mid-18th century, reformist ideas about responsible child-rearing and proper sanitation encouraged Mme. Pompadour to reintroduce dairies to Versailles. Marie Antoinette's seemingly frivolous exercise in peasant rusticity, then, should be seen as a continuance of elitist expressions of virtuous behavior. -- L. R. Matteson Choice 20110701

About the Author

Meredith Martin is Assistant Professor of Art, Wellesley College.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful and Enlightening 12 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I loved this book.

First of all, I had read all of the novels of Richardson and also Julie, or La Nouvelle Heloise by Samuel Richardson, so I was aware of the dairy-house in Clarissa. Remember in the novel, how Clarissa's grandfather leaves the dairy- house to her in his will and this sparks off the conflict in the novel as her brother was hoping to inherit the estate. It is given to her in recognition of her skill and diligence within the dairy-house, where Clarissa made dairy products and entertained her family. This is also the first novel to present female identity as a distinct and controversial entity. Remember also how Mrs Norris, Clarissa's wet-nurse, retires to the dairy-house to spent the rest of her days after Clarissa's death.

Also, in Samuel Richardson's novel, Pamela, there is a dairy to which Pamela's intended takes her in order to discuss their domestic arrangements.

Meredith describes the dairy of Catherine de Medici. This is a place for feminine activity and for female self-construction as much as having an association with the normal activities of milking cows and of making butter and cheese. These were nevertheless activities in which high-born women took an interest. The pleasure dairy, or 'ornamental dairy' as it is called in England, is a structure that stands apart from the main dairy, and in involves a more genteel activity. The dairy is also there to celebrate feminine activities like breastfeeding, and provides a more secular model for doing so. Previously this activity was something that was always visualized within a religious context, based on the images of the Virgin Mary within the church, so this heralded a new way of feminine thinking and self-construction.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Its a totally charming book about these beautiful structures made for these very different Ladies 4 Sep 2013
By jean h douglas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Its a beautiful book about beautiful places. The illustrations are wonderful. I wish they had been larger. Its wonderfully researched, full of interesting facts, about the eras, the ladies & the customs of the times
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful and Enlightening 12 Mar 2013
By llotusflower - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I loved this book.

First of all, I had read all of the novels of Richardson and also Julie, or La Nouvelle Heloise by Samuel Richardson, so I was aware of the dairy-house in Clarissa. Remember in the novel, how Clarissa's grandfather leaves the dairy- house to her in his will and this sparks off the conflict in the novel as her brother was hoping to inherit the estate. It is given to her in recognition of her skill and diligence within the dairy-house, where Clarissa made dairy products and entertained her family. This is also the first novel to present female identity as a distinct and controversial entity. Remember also how Mrs Norton, Clarissa's wet-nurse, retires to the dairy-house to spent the rest of her days after Clarissa's death.

Also, in Samuel Richardson's novel, Pamela, there is a dairy to which Pamela's intended takes her in order to discuss their domestic arrangements.

Meredith describes the dairy of Catherine de Medici. This is a place for feminine activity and for female self-construction as much as having an association with the normal activities of milking cows and of making butter and cheese. These were nevertheless activities in which high-born women took an interest. The pleasure dairy, or 'ornamental dairy' as it is called in England, is a structure that stands apart from the main dairy, and in involves a more genteel activity. The dairy is also there to celebrate feminine activities like breastfeeding, and provides a more secular model for doing so. Previously this activity was something that was always visualized within a religious context, based on the images of the Virgin Mary within the church, so this heralded a new way of feminine thinking and self-construction.

Everyone has heard of the dairy-maid activities of Marie-Antoinette, but they have always been given an incredibly bad press. In this book Meredith explains how the dairy at Rambouillet was not designed by Marie-Antoinette, but was presented to her as a surprise gift. Instead of her ideas, it contains male fantasies of these feminine activities and ideals. Instead of Rambouillet, Marie-Antoinette preferred the Hameau at Versailles. This was a little hamlet built for the queen. She houses some peasant families there, and also a model farm and a dairy. This activity was based on the advice of Rousseau, who wanted women to be closer to nature and to return to breast-feeding their own children.

Anyone who has read Julie, or La Nouvelle Heloise, will recall the dairy that Julie is given on her husband's estate. The dairy defines a specifically feminine retreat and is associated with quintessentially feminine activities. This is a delightful book, beautifully laid out and meticulously researched.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marie-Antoinette did not act alone 2 Oct 2011
By Elizabeth Barrett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Meredith Martin's book, Dairy Queens, was recommended to me by our Context Travel leader, while touring Marie-Anoinette"s hamlet and dairy at Versailles this summer. I would recommend this fine historical account of period life as a travel preparation for a trip to France, especially a trip to Versailles. It puts in prospective ideas and events that might otherwise be preceived as random and particular to Marie-Antoinette and her alleged "let them eat cake" bevavior.
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