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Appropriations of the Gothic by Romantic-era women writers

Alshatti, Aishah (2008) Appropriations of the Gothic by Romantic-era women writers. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

In this study, I set out to examine the multifarious ways in which Romantic-era women writers appropriated the Gothic for genres other than the novel, and to explore the implications of these appropriations. I look at different manifestations of the Gothic written by women in non-novelistic texts –– such as drama, autobiography, poetry, and chapbooks –– and I contend that the relationship of women writers to gothic writing is more complex and ambivalent than has been shown in earlier studies, revealing the special and intricate relationships of Gothic with genre and gender. In the first chapter, I compare two plays that are based on a well-known highland legend, Joanna Baillie’s _The Family Legend_ and Thomas Holcroft’s _The Lady of the Rock_. I elucidate the role played by genre and gender in formulating two adaptations that bear, each in its own way, on themes of liberation, tyranny and domestic violence. One of the main issues addressed by this chapter is how Baillie appropriates gothic tropes and adapts a legend to suit her gender specific literary and political purposes. In the second chapter, I refer to Diane Hoeveler’s concept of “gothic feminism” and use it to read Mary Robinson’s _Perdita: The Memoirs of Mary Robinson_ and “Golfre: A Gothic Swiss Tale”, a long narrative poem. I consider these texts as instances of an ideological appropriation of varieties of the Gothic that victimizes women, and thus reveals their vulnerability in order, paradoxically, to make a case for their rights and to expose hegemonic patriarchal constructs. In the third chapter I look at the poetic works of the little known Anne Bannerman whose utilization of the Gothic has centred on the deformed body, in this way obliquely revealing her own definition of and experience with disability. The fourth chapter examines yet another minor women writer, Sarah Wilkinson, who lived in almost total obscurity, yet wrote numerous gothic chapbooks. I study her appropriation of the didactic modes of Gothic that are found in chap-literature, and in this way I highlight a new strand of the Gothic that weaves gothic trappings with elements of both popular literature and middle-class morality. In the fifth and final chapter I return to Joanna Baillie in order to study _Orra_ which I believe to be one of her most unusual plays in that it uses gothic conventions to offer a critique on these very conventions. I use Elizabeth Fay’s definition of the “radical critique gothic” to illuminate my reading.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Gothic, Romanticism, Women Writers, Appropriation, Joanna Baillie, gothic drama, The Family Legend, Orra, Mary Robinson, Memoirs, gothic poetry, Anne Bannerman, Tales of Superstition and Chivalry, Sarah Wilkinson, gothic chapbooks, theories of the body.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: McMillan, Mrs Dorothy
Date of Award: 2008
Depositing User: Ms. Aishah Alshatti
Unique ID: glathesis:2008-232
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2008
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:17
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/232

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