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Title: Speaking silence : indeterminate identities in the writings of Christina Rossetti.
Author: Burlinson, Kathryn Jane.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3510 2515
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 1994
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This thesis examines representations of feminine identity in Christina Rossetti's poetry and prose. "Speaking Silence" indicates the centrality of paradox in Rossetti's work: her contradictory identity as a poet and a bourgeois Victorian woman produces tensions which are never resolved, but are continually figured and re-figured. Rossetti's ceaseless attempts to find adequate models for feminine subjectivity are shown to engender ideological manoeuvres which render her texts equivocal and indeterminate. Her constant oscillation between complicity with and critique of dominant cultural ideologies results in the destabilizing of conventional epistemologies and interpretive paradigms. A play of possibilities replaces gendered or discursive fixture. The dynamic interplay of speaking and silence appears in different guises. At times Rossetti speaks directly about silence. She also silences herself, as manuscript revisions show. Strategic exploitations of silence occur, but Rossetti also speaks for the silent, marking her objection to Victorian treatment of the powerless. Interpreting silent worlds--be they phenomenal or immaterial--is a further, fundamental concern. Indeterminate identities are considered in the first three chapters of the thesis in relation to discourses of the feminine self. Chapters Four to Six then examine indeterminacy with reference to Rossetti's readings of material and transcendent worlds. Chapter One considers the poet's familial/literary context, highlighting her early efforts to find satisfactory existential/textual models. Chapter Two focuses on Rossetti's major fantasy writings and the grotesque bodies there portrayed. Chapter Three advances the discussion of fantasy, exploring the poet's games with indeterminate poetic language. The fourth chapter expands the spatial frame of reference and reads Rossetti's attitude towards sub-human nature in relation to contemporary scientific discourses. Chapter Five considers the symbolic and analogical paradigms adopted for reading nature, while the final chapter focuses on Rossetti's devotional poetry and the paradigms of feminine identity there figured
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature