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Title:Urban Industry and Literary Work: The Construction of Authorship in the Victorian Social -Problem Novel, 1845--1866
Author(s):Starr, Elizabeth Ann
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Anderson, Amanda
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, English
Abstract:This dissertation analyzes Victorian social-problem novels as products of an urban, industrial literary culture. Challenging the genre's reputation as a prominently mimetic endeavor of middle-class observers, I argue that the writers I address considered themselves "authors" immersed in literary practices and professions. Victorian social-problem novels were particularly responsive to the popular markets that made fiction an outlet for social influence. This genre's investment in the efficacy and circulation of fiction provided aspiring and established authors alike with a heightened awareness of the social and economic contexts for their work. Re-contextualizing this genre within the culture of literary production, I argue, allows us to consider Victorian writers' conceptions of themselves as a part of urban industry; to place writing within nineteenth-century debates about the status of labor and profession; and to recuperate social-problem fiction's specifically literary ties and ambitions. This dissertation focuses on Sybil (1845) by Benjamin Disraeli, Mary Barton (1848) and North and South (1855) by Elizabeth Gaskell, Alton Locke (1850) by Charles Kingsley, Hard Times (1854) by Charles Dickens, and Felix Holt (1866) George Eliot. Individual chapters analyze writers' attempts to project narrative into the heart of urban scenes and labor conflicts. This dissertation accordingly reframes critical accounts of social-problem fiction as a product of the "hungry forties," acknowledging authors' extra-literary aspirations for fiction while recognizing how these texts helped shape popular conceptions of what "the literary" was and what it could do.
Issue Date:2001
Description:189 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2001.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3017219
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2001

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