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Title: The heroism of Byron's heroines
Author: Camilleri, Anna Francesca
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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Byron’s women characters have typically been seen as, in Hazlitt’s early observation, ‘yielding slaves’. My study re-examines that assumption, finding instead, across Byron’s career, an abiding concern with the active individuality of women, and, more especially, with the creation of a specifically female form of heroism. Recent critical attention has discussed women in Byron’s poetry in general, notably Nigel Leask (British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire, 2004) and Susan Wolfson (Borderlines: The Shiftings of Gender in British Romanticism, 2006), but Byronic female heroism has gone unstudied. Caroline Franklin’s sociologically couched work (Byron’s Heroines, 1992) is one of the few to tackle the heroine, but she understands the term merely as ‘female protagonist’: my interest, by contrast, is in the development of a specific, new kind of gendered heroism. Byron’s representation of women takes shape within a number of discrete but inter-related discourses. The thesis examines the manner in which Byron engaged with previous literary and historical representations of proscribed gender roles. I remain alert to the literary heritage of Byron’s representation of female heroism, which extends beyond his own socio-historical context. The thesis is organised within the three major influences: (i) contemporary writings on gender and women, and a consideration of how Byron has ‘resisted’ availability for feminist critique, this being a result of an insufficiently nuanced approach to his poetry; (ii) eighteenth-century writings on the Orient and Oceania, which examines the concepts of Orient and Other as central to the destabilization of fixed perimeters of gender spheres in Byron’s Turkish Tales; (iii) epic, which establishes Byron’s relationship with his literary predecessors as one of reformation and resistance before demonstrating how Byron’s particular form of heroism and epic was one way that he made room for the heroic female. The thesis concludes with a brief coda, which extends the parameters of the governing concerns of the thesis, gender and heroism, arguing that Don Juan becomes a formal realization of the gendered heroics of Byron’s poetic consciousness.
Supervisor: Perry, Seamus P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Language and Literature ; Byron ; heroism ; orientalism ; epic ; romanticism ; gender