• Male-only preserves: Homosocial environments in the nineteenth century

      Edwards, 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.
    • The runaway train: The railways and social anxiety in Victorian Britain

      Siddle, Yvonne; Price, Valerie (University of Chester, 2013)
      This essay examines whether the concerns and anxieties expressed over the railways in nineteenth-century Britain are in reality an expression of the wider concerns of the time. The Chester to Holyhead line, including the branch line from Llandudno to Blaenau, was taken as the basis for the essay as it encapsulates many of the points under consideration. Chapter one explores the physical problems of the railway looking at the apprehension over the speed of the locomotives and lack of control over expansion of the network as it destroyed housing and seized land. Social expansion was a source of concern epitomised by the rise of the new ‘middle class’. Wealth was generated rather than inherited allowing the permeation of class boundaries. Technology became more complex and less comprehensible to the people using it. The apparently unstoppable nature of the railway was causing anxiety across society. Chapter two examines the cultural impact of the railway, including the mobility of much larger proportions of the population and the incursion of mass numbers of people into areas previously considered the territory of the upper classes. The introduction of ‘Railway’ time across the country was also studied as well as the effect on language, culture and the economy in Wales. Chapter three looks at literature, with particular reference to Wordsworth, Dickens, Braddon, Gissing and Trollope and how the railways influenced their writing. Examination was made of the expansion of printing and the availability of cheaper literature and the effects this had on the structure of the reading public. Religious symbolism was explored and the use of the train as metaphor for modernity.