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Title: Deadly domesticity : Agatha Christie's 'middlebrow' Gothic, 1930-1970
Author: Yiannitsaros, Christopher
ISNI:       0000 0004 6351 1887
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis examines the use of the Gothic - genre of literary production deeply implicated with a set of patently middle class anxieties concerning the home - in the ‘middlebrow’ detective fiction of Agatha Christie, particularly within her novels authored in the forty year period between 1930 and 1970. It is argued that there are five different ‘types’ of Gothic at work in Christie’s fiction: the haunted house narrative; the Gothic village; Gay Gothic; Post-WWII Gothic; and Brontë Gothic. This thesis moreover suggests that Christie’s employment and development of these Gothic sub-genres is often achieved via nineteenth-century interlocutors, with Christie’s fiction drawing heavily upon, and in some cases ‘re-imagining’, some of the cornerstones of Victorian Gothic literature. In doing so, this thesis sets out to problematize Alison Light’s famous characterisation of Christie as a ‘modernist […] iconoclast’ whose fiction nonchalantly shatters ‘Victorian images of home, sweet home’. Instead, it is argued that Christie’s use of the Gothic speaks of a relationship with nineteenth-century literary culture which far more complicated: a contradictory interplay of simultaneous desire and distance characteristic of the ‘middlebrow’ fiction produced by women writers of this time. This thesis reads Christie’s use of the Gothic historically, seeking to both firmly situate her work within its contemporary historical contexts - particularly in relation to debates regarding the family, domestic space, and the birth of what Nicola Humble has termed the birth of ‘the new cult of the domestic’ after the First World War - and to elucidate the nineteenth-century contexts which she additionally draws upon. Ultimately, in reading instances of domestic Gothicism as they occur across her oeuvre, this thesis makes a case for the valuable historically-specific cultural critiques made by one who, at least in the popular imagination, is positioned as such an avowedly ‘conservative’ writer.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN Literature (General)