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Title: Novel intersections : the representation of factory children in early Victorian industrial fiction
Author: Lo, Pei-Hsuan
ISNI:       0000 0004 8497 8670
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis examines the representation of factory children in early Victorian industrial fiction of the 1830s and 40s. It investigates the multiple ways the factory child is represented and manipulated. Focussing on the hybrid novelistic representations of factory children, the thesis through its examinations aims at an intertextual and intermedial understanding of the mixed mode of the early Victorian industrial novel, in which a variety of ideologies, discourses, formal properties, cultural inheritances, and visual representations intersect. Positioning the fictional factory children within the relationships of the working and middle classes as represented in these novels, this thesis investigates the interrelationships of age, class, and gender, as envisioned in early industrial fiction. The representation of factory children becomes a coordinating point that connects and mediates contradictory social (class, gender, and adult-child) relationships as well as intertextual and intermedial relationships. The factory child figure, then, is not always a 'child' in the strict sense, but may have attained puberty with its transgressive potential; or may serve to embody the infantilization of the working class by the middle class. As this thesis demonstrates, writing about factory children and the transition to writing about working-class women become tactics used by middle-class male and female writers to express their social concern for lower-class people and to negotiate their own rights. Eventually, as Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna's 'Helen Fleetwood' (1839-41) and 'The Wrongs of Woman' (1843-44) portray problematic working-class heroines, following them from childhood into womanhood, and empower women across classes with their moral influence, the early Victorian industrial novels with factory children protagonists lead the way to later social novels by women writers with subversive heroines, such as Elizabeth Gaskell's 'Ruth' (1853).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available