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Title: Works of taste and fancy : the woman and the child reader in nineteenth century literature
Author: Wood, Laura Clare
ISNI:       0000 0004 5915 9884
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis considers the triangular relationship between reading, domesticity, and the body, and it does so through an interrogation of the way the woman reader and the child reader are represented in nineteenth century literature. It argues that anxieties surrounding readers outside of the text are represented and responded to inside of them. The act of reading is highlighted as one that represents a point of anxiety because it can be an act that threatens the reader or an act that educates them. This causes tension, I argue, because while texts that address women and children wish to do so from a didactic perspective, by engaging with the act of reading they open the door to acts of transgression that must be prevented. The ideal domestic space is, I argue, one shaped by acts of reading and one that then goes on to shape the ideal reader. Discussions of reading are also closely tied to the body through transgression and tropes of appetite and consumption, and these discussions enter into a debate over appropriate models of gender for the woman and the child reader. In this way both the relationship between reader and domesticity, and reader and the body, are implicated in a conversation taking place over gender. The figure of the reader is uniquely positioned to represent these anxieties and to act didactically in all of these areas. I argue that cultural fantasies about how reading takes place in the nineteenth century alter the way in which people read, creating a cyclical relationship in which the reader inside the text and the reader outside of it are constantly remaking one another. Through this research this thesis seeks to celebrate the role of the reader as one of enduring power and importance.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN Literature (General)