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Permanent link (DOI): https://doi.org/10.7939/R3WQ05

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The Architectural Subject: Space, Character, and Gender in Four Eighteenth-Century Domestic Novels Open Access

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Other title
Subject/Keyword
Clarissa
Samuel Richardson
Belinda
space
Jane Austen
interiority
Frances Burney
gender
Mansfield Park
Maria Edgeworth
architecture
Cecilia
subjectivity
eighteenth-century novel
Type of item
Thesis
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Chan, Mary M
Supervisor and department
Binhammer, Katherine (English and Film Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Sabor, Peter (English)
Harol, Corrinne (English and Film Studies)
Merrett, RJ (English and Film Studies)
Lemire, Beverly (History and Classics)
Department
Department of English and Film Studies
Specialization
English
Date accepted
2012-09-26T13:22:22Z
Graduation date
2012-09
Degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Doctoral
Abstract
This dissertation examines the impact of space, specifically domestic architecture, on the representation of female subjectivity in four eighteenth-century British domestic novels, Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa (1747–48), Frances Burney’s Cecilia (1782), Maria Edgeworth’s Belinda (1801), and Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814). I bring together theories of space, architectural histories, social histories of houses, eighteenth-century architectural treatises, and analyses of contemporaneous buildings and floor-plans to argue that spatial representations and metaphors in these novels test the composition and boundaries of female subjectivity. This testing is accomplished by treating subjects as spaces, specifically as houses whose exteriors are supposed to indicate their interior character. In other words, I examine what happens when an increasingly interiorized subject is represented as a literally interiorized structure, the house. For many heroines of eighteenth-century novels, this representation is dangerous because it could lead to the misinterpretation or misconstruction of character. One way of resisting such misrepresentation is found in the subject’s movement, particularly movement that evades attempts at fixing. The novels trace an increasing discomfort with constructions of the subject as divided along interior and exterior lines. At the century’s end, there is a shift away from questions about how space does or does not indicate character towards how space can facilitate the subject’s personal experiences and feelings, a shift that corresponds to the growing acceptance of the interiorized subject. But as this project demonstrates, until this shift occurs, attempts to fix character (particularly the character of women) exposed how uncertain and unstable the notion of the subject was for most of the eighteenth century.
Language
English
DOI
doi:10.7939/R3WQ05
Rights
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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