Rebels in the Family: New Domestic Novels in Fin-de-Siècle Britain

Title: Rebels in the Family: New Domestic Novels in Fin-de-Siècle Britain
Authors: Nelson, Laura
Date: 2016
Abstract: This thesis considers three British novels of the 1880s that imagined a range of middle-class domestic configurations that deviated in new ways from the long-contested fiction of the British household as a patriarchal stronghold. Although mid-Victorian novels very often featured narratives of domestic upheaval, they did so in a way that sensationalized and emphasized the rarity of middle-class familial deviance. In contrast, the fin-de-siècle domestic novel brought a greater range of idiosyncratic families and households under a newly sociological lens and explored them as part of the reality of modern British family life. The persistent attention to alternative domesticities by novelists writing in the fin-de-siècle period suggests that the social problems of the day required new novelistic genres and formal strategies beyond those favoured by writers of sensation fiction and sentimental domestic novels in the earlier part of the century. Through readings of late-career novels by the popular Victorian sensationalist Wilkie Collins and a New Woman novel by the anti-feminist editorialist Eliza Lynn Linton, this thesis argues that the generic hybridity of such fin-de-siècle British novels resulted in a capacious domestic narrative that often looked beyond the fraught unit of the biological family to posit an unprecedented range of new family configurations.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -