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Title:'All Other Faculties Must Be Silent': Victorian Motherhood and the Divided Female Self
Author(s):Crowley, Leslie Anne
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Baym, Nina
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, African
Abstract:This study begins with an analysis of an 1890 case study of two pregnant women by Dr. Arabella Kenealy. "The Talent of Motherhood" draws on diverse mid-to-late nineteenth-century discourses, and proposes a physiological analysis of motherhood that is predicated upon an attenuated vision of female agency, a rejection of the body, and a severely compromised view of female selfhood. Chapter two discusses Elizabeth Barrett Browning's overt interrogation of motherhood as a conflicted identity for women in her 1861 "Mother and Poet." Viewed in the context of the critical responses to her political poetry, this poem demonstrates the intrinsic incompatibility between a woman's identity as purveyor of cultural values to her children, and her physical, biological involvement in bearing and raising children. Chapter three focuses on East Lynne, Ellen Wood's 1861 sensation novel of maternal excesses, arguing that the transgressive heroine's "perversion" of maternal love serves as a necessary vehicle for the consolidation of a uniform, patriarchal, middle-class identity characterized by the channeling of desire into economic and moral superiority. Chapter four examines three "fallen woman" poems, Sarah Stickney Ellis' The Mothers of England, and Elizabeth Gaskell's Ruth, arguing that the motherhood as redemption trope used in these texts conceals a vision of motherhood as punishment. Chapter five discusses Olive Schreiner's fiction and nonfiction, arguing primarily that her fictional female characters expose the irreconcilability of marriage, motherhood and individual fulfillment in a patriarchal system, and experience motherhood as either a grotesque, animal-like function, or as the literal and figurative death which results from heterosexual relationships.
Issue Date:2000
Description:267 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2000.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9989973
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2000

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