The fantasy of home : Victorian children's fantasy fiction and the domestic

Geer, Jennifer Lee, Department of English, University of Virginia
Chase, Karen S., Department of English, University of Virginia
Booth, Alison, Department of English, University of Virginia
Arata, Stephen, Department of English, University of Virginia
Smolkin, Laura, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

As an interdisciplinary project that encompasses Victorian and children's literature studies, "The Fantasy of Home: Victorian Children's Fantasy Fiction and the Domestic" emphasizes reciprocity between Victorian domestic ideologies and the period's children's literature. The project thus rethinks divisions between children's literature scholarship and literary studies. Drawing on primary sources and the work of Victorianists such as Elizabeth Langland, historians such as Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall, and children's literature scholars such as U. C. Knoepflmacher and Claudia Nelson, I show how children's novels by Lewis Carroll, George MacDonald, Jean Ingelow, and James Barrie negotiate the tensions among contemporary attitudes toward middle-class children, the domestic spaces they were assumed to inhabit, and the properly feminine or masculine adults they were encouraged to become. My first chapter traces the ways in which contemporary defenses of fairy tales inform Carroll's presentation of the often conflicted relationships between ideals of girlhood and womanhood, while my second chapter shows how a woman writer such as Ingelow employs associations between children's literature and maternal influence to establish her own authorial credentials. The final chapters treat MacDonald's fantasy novels and Barrie's Peter Pan as attempts to reconcile a belief in home as the child's proper sphere with the emerging late-Victorian and Edwardian emphasis on male adventure. By revealing the diverse ways in which these works shape and are shaped by contemporary views of children's literature, gender, and the domestic, I offer fresh readings of the texts at hand and augment the recent critical emphasis on multifaceted, malleable, and ideologically-charged conceptions of home and childhood in the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Victorian children's fiction, far from being peripheral to study of the period's literature and culture, is in fact central to an understanding of the dialectic between representations of children, women, and home in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

Thesis originally deposited on 2016-03-14 in version 1.28 of Libra. This thesis was migrated to Libra2 on 2017-03-23 16:35:23.

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