• The Evolution of Artificial Illumination in Nineteenth Century Literature: Light, Dark, and the Spaces in Between

      Richard Leahy; University of Chester (University of Chester, 2016-03-04)
      This thesis concentrates on the role of artificial light in the society, culture, and literature of the nineteenth century. Technologies of illumination in this period had a great effect on how society operated and how people experienced space and reality. These effects will be studied through reference to contemporary sources, historical analysis, and literary analysis. Each chapter uses a distinct theoretical viewpoint, and maintains a focus on a particular author (where possible). In the first chapter, the role of firelight in the works of Elizabeth Gaskell is examined, using Gaston Bachelard’s ideas on fire and psychology. The second chapter focuses on the role of candlelight in the works of Wilkie Collins, using Jacques Lacan’s theories on the Gaze. Due to the density of metaphoric references to gaslight in his fiction, Émile Zola’s work is the focus of the third chapter, while Jean Baudrillard’s theories on the nature of modern reality inform the theoretical analysis. The fourth and final chapter examines electric light’s rise to prominence and the rapidly changing attitudes towards it. It was impossible to limit this chapter’s study to only one author, so instead attention is paid to how electric light transitions from a fantastical technology to something real; this is done through a close examination of the early Science Fiction of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, before the study moves to examine the realism of E.M. Forster and Edith Wharton. The theoretical background of this chapter is informed by a combination of previously covered theory, with attention also paid to posthumanism. The thesis identifies a number of trends and developments in the relationship between light and literature. It notes how artificial light created a space symbolically independent of light and dark, as well as elaborating on each light source’s individual symbolism. It also documents the relationship between artificial light and the transition of society and culture into modernity; it outlines the development, and cultural acceptance, of the notion of a technologically connected society and consumerism. Perhaps most importantly, this study identifies a psychological connection between literature, light, and the individual, and examines the representation of such a concept in the symbolism and metaphor of artificial light.
    • Gender disruption, rivalry, and same-sex desire in the work of Victorian women writers

      Harding, Andrew C. (University of Chester, 2012-11)
      This thesis examines the important role of female same-sex relationships in nineteenth-century literature and culture. Whilst drawing directly upon Sharon Marcus‟s recent book, Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England, a revisionary queer reading of inter-dependent same-sex female intimacy and mainstream middle-class heteronormative ideals, my own study extends the parameters of Marcus‟s work by focussing on alternative contexts and previously overlooked same-sex female relationships. This thesis argues that the culturally endorsed model of Victorian female homosociality identified by Marcus was subject to disruption and transformation both within and beyond the institutions of marriage and the family. It concludes that various forms (rather than one definitive model) of homosocial desire shaped nineteenth-century female bonding. In the first chapter I explore the unstable social status of working middle-class women, and identify instances of employer/employee female intimacy organised upon a disturbance or reversal of social hierarchy. In the second chapter I demonstrate how the ideal of female amity was inevitably undermined in the literary marketplace, and that whilst women writers were engaged in constructing and disseminating this ideal in their novels, they were also embroiled in a series of professional jealousies with one another which served to undo the very ideal they were promoting. In the second part of this chapter I highlight the pluralism of mainstream homoerotic femininity by examining Dinah Mulock Craik‟s fictional representation of homoerotic surveillance manifest in a culturally endorsed adolescent female gaze. In the third chapter I challenge Marcus‟s claim that well-known independent nineteenth-century lesbians were fully accommodated into mainstream „respectable‟ society by demonstrating that some of these women informed Eliza Lynn Linton‟s homophobic portrait of radical feminist separatism. I also explore in this chapter Linton‟s fictional representation of sororal eroticism, and argue that (notwithstanding mother/daughter bonds) Linton, like many of her contemporaries, regarded sisterhood as the primary bond between women. I also evidence in this chapter that Linton‟s portrait of „sororophobia‟ is comparable with cultural ideals regarding the important function that female friends had in facilitating one another‟s marriage.