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Title:Forming Ideology: The Work of Narrative Form in the Victorian Novel
Author(s):Fell, William David
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Garrett, Peter
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, English
Abstract:This study proposes a new way to read the social via the formal in nineteenth-century British fiction. It reads a wide range of mostly Victorian novels to illustrate how narrative form acts as a determining, not just determined, component of ideological work, and to uncover the largely unrecognized work this type of reading brings to fight. It thereby differs from prevailing approaches to form and ideology, which tend to take ideology, not form, as their point of departure, and which tend to treat form as a passive site, not an active shaper, of ideology. This study instead takes specific forms of character, narration, and plotting as its starting point, and then shows how these forms impose limits on, or open up possibilities for, how authors construct categories such as masculinity, domesticity, class, and nationality in specific historical contexts. In so doing, it uncovers a broad constellation of underappreciated or simply unrecognized ideological work: work such as the recurrent failure and denigration of homosocial bonds in Victorian male hero novels, which is motivated by the teleological form and domestic destiny of the mid-Victorian male hero, or the writing of fallen women, the lower-class, or non-British subjects into the histories of dominant subjects and families, which is made possible and more palatable through the causal logic and manipulation of readerly desire embedded in the Victorian mystery plot. In short, this study offers the first comprehensive and explicit demonstration of how form plays a role in forming ideology, while also revealing the wide range of ideological work that otherwise remains invisible.
Issue Date:2000
Description:271 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2000.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9955613
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2000

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