Dark matters: gothic landscape and women’s writing in the 19th and 20th century British novel

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Katherine Anne Hagopian Berry (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Anne Wallace

Abstract: This work traces a connection between gothic narratives, noted for their particular depictions of carceral and sublime landscapes, and a women's rhetorical tradition elided by Plato and Aristotle. In order to accomplish this work, I follow Krista Ratcliffe in reading Virginia Woolf as a rhetorical theorist, one specifically interested in alternative narrative structures which facilitate women's writing. I argue that Woolf analyzes the process of composition in order to suggest material and bodily rhetorics, what I call androgynous rhetoric, as a mechanism for overcoming phallogencentrism. By connecting Woolf's androgynous rhetorics to a series of specific spatial markers also located in Plato, I question a literary tradition which contains gothic within problematic eighteenth- and nineteenth-century texts and a rhetorical tradition which limits gothic to a genre of literary study. Specifically, I interrogate gothic novels by Ann Radcliffe and Mary Shelley, locate gothic moments within the work of Jane Austen, examine Charlotte Bronte's gothic spaces and culminate in an examination of Woolf's most relevant novel: Orlando. My work rereads gothic writing across the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in order to reclaim gothic as a specific narrative strategy, one which reflects an embodied, explicitly feminist aesthetic. Therefore, I argue that gothic is not a genre or a particular feature of plot, character or even setting, but is a process of both invention and arrangement, one which allows women to write and reflects specifically feminist approaches to argument.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Composition, Gothic
Gothic fiction (Literary genre), English $x History and criticism

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