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Title: Victorian sensation fiction : heterogeneity, genre, and literary value
Author: Beller, Anne-Marie
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 2003
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Abstract:
This thesis examines the sensation novels of the' mid-Victorian period, focusing particularly on the work of Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Wilkie Collins and Mrs. Henry Wood. Whereas previous studies of sensation fiction have concentrated attention onto the decade of the 1860s, I have widened the parameters of the discussion to demonstrate that 'sensationalism', as it was broadly understood by the Victorians, was neither new precisely at the beginning of the sixties, nor did it disappear in the following decade. The thesis contends that by thus extending the field of enquiry the response in the 1860s is more clearly elucidated and shown to be motivated, to a considerable degree, by concerns about the status of art and the perceived corruption of 'high' culture by commercial, popular forms, concerns which were often expressed through a gendered and classed discourse. I argue that sensation fiction was a category largely devised by contemporary reviewers as a means of focusing and addressing anxieties concerning the growth of popular fiction, and which, in fact, grouped together a varied collection of authors, diverse in ideology, methods, form, and often content. The thesis offers detailed readings of novels written between 1852 and 1888, in part to establish the heterogeneity that I assert was evident among the authors labelled sensation novelists, and also to suggest that the label itself was often employed ideologically to devalue the work ofspecific authors. The thesis is divided into two sections. The first section is chronological, showing the development of the discourse on sensation through the periods immediately prior 'to and following the decade of the 1860s. The second section is organized thematically, each chapter dealing with a specific aspect of the sensation debate, such as morality, crime, genre and canonicity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.495428  DOI: Not available
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