Haunted matters: objects, bodies, and epistemology in Victorian women's ghost stories

Bissell, Sarah Jane (2014) Haunted matters: objects, bodies, and epistemology in Victorian women's ghost stories. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3109743


Haunted Matters interrogates objects, bodies, and epistemology in a selection of Victorian women’s ghost stories, arguing that these things provided a means through which the chosen writers could critique women’s troubled cultural position in mid- to late-nineteenth-century Britain. The four authors considered – Charlotte Riddell, Margaret Oliphant, Vernon Lee, and Edith Nesbit – were all fundamental figures in the development of the ghost story genre, using this popular fiction form to investigate social arenas in which women were subjugated, professional venues from which they were excluded, and the cultural construction of femininity. Each chapter is thus keyed into a specific aspect of women’s material lives: money and the financial market (Riddell); visual science and the male gaze (Oliphant); object culture and ‘feminine’ mysteriousness (Lee); and fin de siècle marriage and the female corpse (Nesbit). This study argues that these writers – in making things, bodies, and forms of perception central to their ghost stories – implicitly condemned the patriarchal society which perpetuated a range of contradictory assumptions about women, as being both bodily and spiritual, overly invested in the material world or too prone to flights of fancy. Their diverse literary endeavours in this popular fiction form enabled the selected writers to earn money, engage in public discourse, and critique the dominant culture which sanctioned women’s subjugation. Haunted Matters thus questions the ghost story’s designation as an anti-materialist genre through a focus on gender, instead foregrounding the form’s explicit connections to the material world.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: ghost story, supernatural, Gothic, Victorian literature, women's writing, periodicals, feminism, hauntings, Victorian economics, Victorian finance, Victorian objects, fin de siecle, femme fatale, the female body, the corpse.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Ferguson, Dr. Christine
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Dr Sarah Jane Bissell
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-6402
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2015 13:14
Last Modified: 29 May 2018 10:22
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/6402

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