Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.634304
Title: Nineteenth-century dissenting women writers : literary communities, conviction and genre
Author: Webster, Rachel Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 5350 2426
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2014
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Abstract:
This thesis reconstructs the dissenting religious communities of five nineteenth-century women writers: Hannah More, Catherine and Susanna Winkworth, Elizabeth Gaskell and Josephine Butler. The case study approach locates each woman within an active, religious environment, arguing that community played a significant role in her spiritual and literary development. A recent trend in Romantic Studies has examined creativity in collaborations, in order to dismiss once and for all the myth of an individual genius. This thesis extends the preoccupation to consider the presence of sociability and creative communities in the lives of nineteenth-century religious women. Religiosity is an essential identification for all five women, helping to shape their social agenda, but more importantly to inform their textual choices. Diverse political and theological positions were encouraged and contested within each community, using novels, biographies, poetry, hymns, and speeches to disseminate conviction: they addressed the Abolition of the Slave Trade, German Higher Criticism’s threat to the Christian faith, class unrest and the ‘problem’ of the fallen woman. One of this thesis’s innovations has been to view Evangelicals alongside more recognisable dissenting bodies such as the Unitarians. Evangelicalism’s problematic position within the Anglican Church caused it to be ostracised and distrusted, an experience familiar to the dissenter. The close alliances that existed between orthodox convictions, often assumed in childhood, and a dissenting belief owned and experienced in adulthood have blurred the dividing lines between orthodoxy and dissent. Gendered assumptions about female religious community are dismantled and re-imagined, allowing space for female-male collaborations to emerge. Any conclusions about female religiosity are to be understood relationally, with masculine identity crucial for determining a Christian experience. The nineteenth-century emergence of a feminised Christ (simultaneously a radicalised and conservative representation) is a central figure in which to draw conclusions about the dissenting and gendered practices of these communities. Simplistic conclusions about literary communities are avoided, and instead the case studies represent the diversity of religious convictions, the differences in communal activities, and the varying textual products of collaboration. Community proved both enabling and challenging to the development of these five women.
Supervisor: Salmon, Richard Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.634304  DOI: Not available
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