Files in this item



application/pdf3199070.pdf (4MB)Restricted to U of Illinois
(no description provided)PDF


Title:Between Wildness and Art: Ecology and Agency in Victorian Literature
Author(s):Lipscomb, Susan Rae Bruxvoort
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Julia F. Saville
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, English
Abstract:This dissertation investigates literary depictions of the relationship between humans and non-human nature in the context of the dramatic changes to physical and ideological landscapes that characterized the Victorian period. This study challenges the contemporary critical vocabulary of Ecocriticism and its focus on wilderness through a detailed study of the Victorian response to humanly shaped landscapes. Encompassing the major genres of Victorian literature---novels, poetry, and non-fiction prose---it examines the ways in which Victorian texts witness and describe ecological degradation and, more importantly, how they assign responsibility for that degradation. The dissertation begins with an interpretation of Charlotte Bronte's Shirley, a novel which depicts a passive acceptance of changes wrought by industry. This model, illustrative of the predicament of the Victorian ecological consciousness generally, recognizes ecological degradation but is unable or unwilling to assign blame for it. The project complicates this view of Victorian passivity with an investigation of the ecological consciousness epitomized by the popular Victorian figure of the naturalist. The naturalist, as represented in the novels of George Eliot and Elizabeth Gaskell and, above all, by the iconic figure of Gilbert White of Selborne, presents a sympathetic attentiveness to non-human nature, but without significant activity on its behalf. This dissertation goes on to argue that the idea of human responsibility for non-human degradation, though uncommon in the Victorian period, can be found in several key texts. George Eliot's character, Adam Bede, is a literal and metaphoric steward, taking both care and responsibility for the non-human world. Gerard Manley Hopkins's theologically-inflected journals and poetry deploy the notion of human sinfulness to call for accountability for the destruction of non-human nature. And Richard Jefferies's essays and novels offer a future-oriented view of Victorian agriculture and industry that projects the consequences of pollution and mechanized agriculture within an ecological framework.
Issue Date:2005
Description:191 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2005.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3199070
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2005

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Item Statistics