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Beyond the subversion / containment binary: Middlebrow fiction and social change

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Waechter, C. and Macdonald, K. (2016) Beyond the subversion / containment binary: Middlebrow fiction and social change. In: Berensmeyer, I., Grabes, H. and Schillings, S. (eds.) Literature and Cultural Change. REAL. Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature, 32. Narr Francke Attempto Verlag, Tubingen, Germany. ISBN 9783823341871

[img] Text (Discussion of middlebrow theory in late-19th-century fiction) - Accepted Version
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Abstract/Summary

In the present article we argue that British middlebrow literature often adheres to conservative plot structures aimed at a generic market, and that its impact in socio-cultural terms requires and rewards scrutiny. As Jane Eldridge Miller observes, “it was not easy for [Edwardian] New Woman novelists to change the signification of strongly rooted conventions which associated marriage with feminine success and the suffering or death of the heroine with some kind of moral retribution”, avoiding the trap of narrative containment. We will examine the subversive potential within such containment, with suicide, one of its classical forms, as an example. To this purpose, we will use Victoria Cross’s novel Six Chapters of a Man’s Life (1903) to illustrate a distinctively middlebrow way of contesting constructions of gender and sexuality.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
ID Code:69009
Publisher:Narr Francke Attempto Verlag

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