Troublesome Survivors: Widows in the Nineteenth-Century English Novel
Brodie, Laura Fairchild , Department of English, University of Virginia
Spacks, Patricia, Department of English, University of Virginia
Chase Levenson, Karen, Department of English, University of Virginia
Lane, Karen J., Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia
Because of their unique legal and sexual status, widows have appealed to writers' imaginations throughout Western history, and nineteenth-century England, as both an age of mourning and an era of women's emergent emancipation, provides the ideal cultural setting for a study of these women's literary representation. The text that follows focuses on the novels of Austen, Thackeray and Eliot, considering their depictions of widows in the context of literary history and nineteenth-century culture. This approach is bolstered by my introductory and concluding chapters; the former looks back to seventeenth-century plays, conduct-books and ghost stories to provide a literary-historical context for novelistic treatments of widows, and the latter uses the lives and personal writings of Mary Shelley and Queen Victoria to challenge previous binary assessments of the widow's mourning and sexuality.
PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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