Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Dress, feminism, and British New Woman novels
Author: Allen-Johnstone, Claire
ISNI:       0000 0004 7230 5372
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Restricted access.
Access from Institution:
This thesis examines the close and complex relationship between dress, feminism, and British New Woman novels. It provides in-depth analysis of six New Woman novels and draws comparisons with numerous other works. The case study texts are Olive Schreiner's The Story of an African Farm (1883) and From Man to Man: Or Perhaps Only ... (1926, posthumously), Sarah Grand's Ideala: A Study from Life (1881) and The Heavenly Twins (1893), and Grant Allen's The Woman Who Did (1895) and The Type-Writer Girl (1897). I explore why dress was so important to such novels, and examine the diverse, individual, developing, and shared ways in which authors engaged with dress as a feminist strategy and feminist concern. Areas considered include From Man to Man's use of functional clothes and dress production to celebrate female labour, Grand's interest in both dress reform and dressing to impress, Allen's shift in focus from the white-clad free lover to the sensibly-dressed working woman, and authors' use of deceptively clean clothes to address male immorality and disease. The thesis looks beyond as well as within New Woman narratives, demonstrating that writers, and publishers, were broadly concerned with dress in its various literal and more metaphorical manifestations. Focuses include self-styling, authorial cross-dressing, and bindings. Dress does not, however, always seamlessly support these texts' feminisms, I argue. For example, Grand elevated cross-class feminism, but she belittled middle-class women's taste, side-lined poor women's most pressing sartorial concerns, and dressed to impress. I also stress that dress, being so closely bound up with New Woman novels' feminisms and their ambiguities, is a revealing lens through which to read such texts, and one often capable of prompting re-readings. Attention to Allen's rejection of sartorial realism in parts of The Woman Who Did problematises the dominant conception of this novel as straightforwardly pro-free union, for instance. The thesis, as well as gesturing towards dress's centrality to the production and interpretation of literary feminisms and anti-feminisms broadly, emphasises the importance of dress to New Woman literature and its analysts, and uses dress to provide fresh readings of various novels and genre-wide issues.
Supervisor: Eltis, Sos Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: New Woman literature ; dress in culture and literature ; feminism ; feminism and literature ; feminist literary criticism