The function of fantasy in Victorian literature, art and architecture

Sutherland, Helen Margaret (1999) The function of fantasy in Victorian literature, art and architecture. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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In this thesis I examine the ways in which the Victorians used fantasy in
literature, art, and architecture to explore the main areas of debate and key
issues which were giving rise to anxiety in their society, in some cases
upholding the status quo, but in others questioning accepted social mores.
In particular, I consider the ways in which fantasy was used to examine what
happens in a society when its traditional religious beliefs are challenged,
either by commercialism as an economic creed, or by the acquisition of new
knowledge, be this in the realm of science (theories of evolution) or the
humanities (the new biblical criticism from Germany). Following on from
this, I look at the possible alternatives to traditional religious belief which
fantasy seemed able to offer to an age which appeared to need spirituality
without dogma.
I argue that one of the strategies most commonly adopted by the Victorians
in the creation of fantasy is the disruption of time, and I consider the part
played in literature and art by medievalism, and in architecture by the Gothic
style and the Gothic Revival movement. This is followed by an examination
of the role of Classicism in architecture, and ancient mythologies, such as
Greek, Hebraic, or Babylonian, in literature and art. Finally, I consider the
use of geological time as a point of departure in creating scientific fantasies.
Given the very close links between the arts until the advent of aesthetic
criticism at the end of the nineteenth century, I have drawn freely upon the
visual and the literary arts. The main emphasis is, however, on literature and
painting, with architecture playing a lesser, though still important, part in this

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Reilly, Prof. Patrick, Prickett, Prof. Stephen and Maslen, Dr. Robert
Date of Award: 1999
Depositing User: Ms Mary Anne Meyering
Unique ID: glathesis:1999-5183
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 16 May 2014 10:17
Last Modified: 16 May 2014 10:27

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