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Durham e-Theses
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Down with reticence: modem fiction, censorship and the politics of sexual representation

Patterson, Anthony (2008) Down with reticence: modem fiction, censorship and the politics of sexual representation. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 07 June 2017.

Abstract

While in recent years the aesthetics and politics of British Modernism has been reevaluated and the concept and function of literary censorship redefined. Modernism's privileged status in the struggle against and the ultimate defeat of censorship remains largely unquestioned. This thesis argues, however, that the vital role played by Naturalist, New Woman and Edwardian writers in the battle against censorship and the dominant sexual ideologies that bolstered it has been significantly underestimated. It contends that late-Victorian and Edwardian writers not only produced transgressive sexual representations within the confines of an existent culture of censorship, but also reflexively incorporated themes and issues of censorship into their fiction. Moreover, the thesis situates this specific challenge to literary censorship within the broader intellectual challenge to traditional sexual morality posed by new scientific discourses, especially those that emerged from evolutionary biology. After exploring recent critical conceptualisations and contextualisations of censorship in relation to other articulations of power, those texts that most forcefully contested Victorian sexual reticence are analysed. These include the Naturalist novels of Emile Zola, George Moore and Thomas Hardy, the New Woman fiction of Grant Allen and George Egerton, and the Edwardian sex novels of H, G. Wells, Hubert Wales and Herman Sudermann. While demonstrating how these texts deploy rhetorical strategies that challenge censorship and traditional sexual morality, this thesis also focuses on the complex sexual politics of these narratives to demonstrate how texts can both oppose traditional morality but also reinforce dominant sexual ideologies in new paradigms of scientific rationality.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2008
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:29

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