A space for women? Space and place in women's novels, 1790 -1820.

CASHDAN, Elisabeth M. (2004). A space for women? Space and place in women's novels, 1790 -1820. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

This study examines the emergence of the novel as a writing site for women writers and traces the ways in which women novelists between 1790 and 1820 represented space within their novels. It identifies how women used both the space afforded by the novel, and the representations of space in the novel, to enter the public sphere. Chapter 1 examines theories of the novel to show how it both reflects society and can become an agent for change in society. The chapter examines how important this was for women since the novel might enable them to establish a viewpoint that was distinct from the supposed universal viewpoint adopted by male society. The chapter also examines theories describing the growth of the public sphere, and explores how far women might use the novel as their way of entering the public sphere. Chapter 2 examines novels by women writers where one of the characters is a woman who writes. I argue that in general women novelists took more risks as writers than they allowed their heroines to do, since the heroines usually relinquished their writing careers on getting married. Chapter 3 examines the role of the epistolary novel in women novelists' attempts to capitalise on the site afforded by the novel. If heroines were restricted in their novel writing, they did not need to be restricted in their letter writing. Thus the letter form allowed women novelists an opportunity to voice a wide range of viewpoints, both female and male, on such subjects as marriage, education, slavery, war and peace. Chapter 4 examines the use made by women novelists of the preface and interventions in the text, both to defend themselves as novel writers and to express their views on a wide variety of subjects. It analyses the extensive references to other writers, books and libraries, particularly the circulating libraries. Chapter 5 moves into an analysis of space within the novel, especially the house as the domestic space proper to women. It explores novels where the representation of women's position in their childhood or marital homes reflects their position in society in general. Chapter 6 analyses the difficulties which women encountered in real life when moving beyond the confines of the house and shows how these difficulties were represented in novels by women. The study concludes by suggesting that the novel was an important writing site for women where they could enter the public sphere and stake a claim to cultural capital. It suggests, however, that although this claim was often weakened by certain women novelists who were determined to repudiate the radical views, in particular, of women such as Mary Wollstonecraft, it was nevertheless partly redeemed by the approach of others who succeeded in being both radical and Christian at the same time.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis (Ph.D.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 2004.
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:19
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2018 13:15
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19429

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