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Title: Women in nineteenth-century creative partnerships : the 'significant other'
Author: Rose, Lucy Ella
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 5659
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis examines the role of women in artistic and literary professions, the representation of women in art and literature, and the rise of feminism through these discourses by re-viewing the lives and works of three historically neglected nineteenth-century female figures: Christina Rossetti, Mary Watts and Evelyn De Morgan. It aims to show how these pioneering professional women writers and artists achieved and promoted greater female empowerment and liberation through their creative practices and familial or conjugal creative partnerships. Challenging longstanding perceptions of these female figures as stifled, submissive or subordinate gender ‘Others’, I aim to show how their formation of creative partnerships with artistic men – namely, Gabriel Rossetti, George Watts and William De Morgan – can be seen as career-enabling and self-empowering strategies. This thesis thus identifies structures previously interpreted as straightforwardly patriarchal – that is, Victorian male/female conjugal and familial relations – as sites of creative female agency. It also focuses on moments of protest or struggle in the female figures’ partnerships and works in order to trace the development of their creative identities and feminist voices, offering a more nuanced understanding of power relations between the sexes as well as of the relationship between feminism, art and literature in the period. An analysis of previously unexplored, unpublished archival material and understudied works by these figures in relation to twentieth-century feminist and gender theory shows how they engaged with and contributed to early – as well as prefigured later – feminist discourse. In particular, I explore the ways in which their literary and visual texts can be seen to embody Hélène Cixous’s concept of écriture féminine, revealing the subversive elements of ostensibly conventional works. This thesis thus offers alternative visions of these female figures as ‘significant others’ who were active and influential in their partnerships as well as in contemporary women-centred debates.
Supervisor: Tate, Gregory Sponsor: University of Surrey ; Watts Gallery
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available