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“A Damned Mob of Scribbling Women”: Affective Labour in British and American Fiction, 1848-1915

SKARIS, KATHERINE (2015) “A Damned Mob of Scribbling Women”: Affective Labour in British and American Fiction, 1848-1915. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis examines literary representations of women’s work in British and American fiction written and published between 1848 and 1915. It introduces and explores the concept of affective labour to bring to light and evaluate the previously overlooked labours of women in fiction. Adopting the lens of affective labour, the study seeks to focus on the ways in which women strive for self-fulfilment through forms of emotional, mental and creative endeavour that have not always been fully appreciated as ‘work’ in critical accounts of nineteenth-century and twentieth-century fiction. The thesis both reconsiders some well-established and well-known novels by Elizabeth Gaskell, George Gissing, and Arnold Bennett, and introduces some less familiar work by women writers of the time. Many critical studies of nineteenth-century fiction have concentrated on American fiction or British fiction exclusively. This thesis has a strong transatlantic emphasis, as well as a determination to look at both canonical and non-canonical writings. It has two main objectives. Firstly, it seeks to demonstrate the aim of women’s affective labours in the struggle for self-fulfilment. Secondly, in showing how powerful narratives are generated by a persistent concern with affective labour, the thesis seeks to re-evaluate and re-establish some valuable but largely forgotten or neglected works of female British and American writers. Accordingly, the thesis also attempts, where possible, to record significant changes in the reception history of each novel. The thesis is separated into two sections, Section One (Chapters 1-5) examines British fiction, and Section Two (Chapters 6-9) explores the work of American woman writers of antebellum and post-bellum fiction.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:02 Dec 2015 08:17

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