AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractVictorian sensation novels, with their compulsive plots of crime, transgression and mystery, were bestsellers. Deborah Wynne analyses the fascinating relationships between sensation novels and the magazines in which they were serialized. Drawing upon the work of Wilkie Collins, Mary Braddon, Charles Dickens, Ellen Wood, and Charles Reade, and such popular family journals as All The Year Round, The Cornhill, and Once a Week, Wynne highlights how novels and magazines worked together to engage in the major cultural and social debates of the period.
CitationWynne, D. (2001). The Sensation Novel and the Victorian Family Magazine. Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.
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Women and Personal Property in the Victorian NovelWynne, Deborah; University of Chester (Ashgate, 2010-11-28)How key changes to the married women’s property laws contributed to new ways of viewing women in society are revealed in Deborah Wynne’s study of literary representations of women and portable property during the period 1850 to 1900. While critical explorations of Victorian women’s connections to the material world have tended to focus on their relationships to commodity culture, Wynne argues that modern paradigms of consumerism cannot be applied across the board to the Victorian period. Until the passing of the 1882 Married Women’s Property Act, many women lacked full property rights; evidence suggests that, for women, objects often functioned not as disposable consumer products but as cherished personal property. Focusing particularly on representations of women and material culture in Charles Dickens, George Eliot and Henry James, Wynne shows how novelists engaged with the vexed question of women’s relationships to property. Suggesting that many of the apparently insignificant items that ‘clutter’ the Victorian realist novel take on new meaning when viewed through the lens of women’s access to material culture and the vagaries of property law, her study opens up new possibilities for interpreting female characters in Victorian fiction and reveals the complex work of ‘thing culture’ in literary texts.
‘There is a great deal to the build and wearing of hats, a great deal more than at first meets the eye’: The significance of headwear in the novels of Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth GaskellLyon, Olivia (University of Chester, 2013)The aim of this dissertation is to investigate the significance of headwear to Victorian culture and society, primarily through an analysis of the ways in which headwear is presented in selected works by Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell. The dissertation will also examine articles, illustrations and periodicals from the time in order to gain an insight into the way headwear was viewed in the nineteenth century, in conjunction with information gathered from Brontë and Gaskell’s works. Further research into the subject area has suggested that this is an area of research which has been unusually overlooked, as there are many works which discuss the importance of nineteenth century clothing, but very few with any in-depth analysis of the importance of headwear. The investigation is split into two chapters. The first chapter analyses headwear and its significance to the representation of the individual, as well as the way in which the adornments and trimmings associated with headwear can reveal aspects of a character’s personality. There is also an analysis of the significance of headwear and its relation to the representation of masculinity and femininity, with reference to cross-dressing and Judith Butler’s ideas of gender construction. The second chapter examines headwear as a class signifier, primarily focusing on the headwear of the middle and working classes, including maids and servants. The socially ambiguous nature of the governess’s position is investigated, as well as highlighting the usage of headwear as a means of advancing one’s social class.
Male-only preserves: Homosocial environments in the nineteenth centuryEdwards, Carol (University of Chester, 2013)This dissertation explores those areas of nineteenth-century life from which women were excluded. Links are made throughout to literary texts as illustrations of how male-only groups were depicted in literature and how homosociality was represented. As well as describing the national picture, examples of male-only environments in Cheshire, which are still in existence in the twenty-first century, are used. The Introduction describes the background to the project and considers the development of male-only environments in the light of nineteenth-century attitudes to the respective roles of men and women. It reviews expectations with regard to men’s behaviour that were current at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and considers the changes in those attitudes that took place during Queen Victoria’s reign. The first chapter deals with public schools and the consequences for young boys of growing up in a female-free environment, paying particular regard to the aspirations of their parents, the pupils’ everyday lives and their relationships. Chapter 2 deals with adult male associations and societies: gentlemen’s clubs, Freemasonry, and examples of other local groups that survive today. It looks at their rules and rituals, specifically with regard to their attitude to the presence of women. The final chapter is concerned with intense male relationships and nineteenth-century public opinion about them; particular attention is given in this section to literary examples of close friendships between men and to the role of bachelors. Finally, the Conclusion reflects on the complexity of the subject matter and highlights the different perceptions, historical and contemporary, of the changes that took place during the nineteenth century; and considers how much, or little, has changed since then.