The Architecture of Solitude: Constructions of Isolation in Victorian Literature

David, Monica, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Tucker, Herbert, AS-English (ENGL), University of Virginia
Booth, Alison, AS-English (ENGL), University of Virginia
Arata, Stephen, AS-English (ENGL), University of Virginia
Last, Nana, AR-Architecture, University of Virginia

This dissertation investigates how writers from the nineteenth century explore the interplay of interiority and exteriority through their presentation of towers. As an elevated edifice connected to a larger structure, the tower provokes questions about the intermingling between the individual and communal, the confined and the revealed. These are particularly keen questions for Victorian women, whose inhabitation of towers both exemplified their restriction and served as the foundation for their self-exploration. It begins with two chapters on women in the poems of Alfred, Lord Tennyson that consider how their occupation of towers allows them to receive and alter the forces of literary history against the historical ideals expressed by their surroundings. A third chapter reads novels by Mona Caird and Sarah Grand to show how confined spaces provided a breeding ground for feminine “energies” that responded to Victorian advances in science. The final chapter reads the relationship between women and architecture in the work of Thomas Hardy as expressing ambivalence towards an inevitable modernity.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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