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Title: Fin de siècle horrors : women, streetwalking, spectacle and contagion in london slum narratives, 1880-1900
Author: Le Fevre, Victoria Frances Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 8497 7969
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2014
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I aim to make an important contribution to academic discussion of the modes of women's presence in the literatures of modernity, by approaching documentary texts and fictions describing impoverished women, from the perspective of consumption and phantasmagoric cultures. Cultural historians have tended to debate representations of the consuming practices of socially privileged women in the city's leisure spaces. My project draws on different sets of material, engaging with cultural and historical approaches, to examine elite conceptualizations of impoverished women's engagement with urban aesthetics. Opening up critical space through an emphasis on the malleability of images of reversion in late-Victorian social discourse, my thesis reveals how female exposure to the city's phantasmagoria and subjection to the touch of the working-class male, were commonly represented in terms of contamination precipitating moral and organic corruption. In exploring such formulations, I outline intersections between tropes of feminine monstrosity - encoding compatible social, sexual and racial meanings - discernible in fin-de-siècle slum fictions and sociological reports, and those present in works of French naturalism, in graphic art, and in gothic adventure literatures. By attending to a dialectic of dazzling surface and putrid depths, I trace the positioning of the working-class 'girl' and the marital-maternal body in layers of time, including evolutionary time, and their implication in the circulation of disease and in the flow of foul anatomical matter. My work, then, develops insights around female mobility and the prostitute as urban figure, and contributes to a number of debates in the scholarship of modernity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: phantasmagoria ; gothic ; factory girl ; New Woman ; flaneuse ; prostitute ; female consumer ; commercial display ; grotesque body ; degeneration ; slum narratives ; venereal disease ; Walter Benjamin ; match women ; commodity fetish ; Gissing ; Maugham ; Arthur Morrison ; Margaret Harkness ; Besant ; Kipling