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Domesticating the novel: moral-domestic fiction, 1820-1834.

Howard, Rachel Amanda 2007. Domesticating the novel: moral-domestic fiction, 1820-1834. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Since the late 1960s, the marginalised status of women within literary studies has been addressed. Critics such as Kate Millett set the standard for studies of male-authored fiction that read them for signs of their oppressive, patriarchal assumptions. Somewhat differently, Elaine Showaiter's 1977 text A Literature of Their Own proved seminal for its shift in focus towards women's writing, and the aim of detecting female experiences of society. The effort to retrieve lost or neglected fiction by women mobilised many critics, such Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, yet of most significance for the subject matter of this thesis is Ellen Moers. Moers's Literary Women (1976) essentially suggests an expansion of the types of female-authored fiction that should be recovered. For Moers, women's writing does not have to be about isolated, feminist rejections of male-oriented society in order to be worth retrieving. Female novelists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were taking advantage of one of the few outlets available to them to make money, and their works were defined by intertextuality. Moers writes about a 'sounding board' of mutual awareness and resonance that exists between women writers across periods and genres a female tradition of writing is formed by the 'many voices, of different rhythms, pitches, and timbres' by which women writers are encircled. Collectively, existing works such as those by Showalter and Moers offer justification for retrieving a range of lesser-known, seemingly mundane female-authored works from the past, as these contain connections with surrounding works as well as a narrative on women's experiences of society. Currently, however, there is a critical hiatus in which this opportunity is not being satisfied, and many women writers remain neglected. The gap in our knowledge of the female literary tradition can be filled in part by increased familiarisation with the Moral-Domestic genre of the 1820s and 1830s. This genre relates to fictional forbears such as Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth, as well as later Victorian authors. It also offers a female perspective on a publishing scene whose significance is arguably yet to be fully realised. In this way, the female-authored, Moral-Domestic novels that proliferated in the late-Romantic period represent one, as yet unrecognised voice in Moers's 'sounding board'.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
ISBN: 9781303183256
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2018 03:32

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