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Title: Monstrosity and material culture in nineteenth-century English sea literature
Author: Bushnell, Kelly Patricia
ISNI:       0000 0004 8499 3977
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis explores monsters and monstrosity in sea literature of the nineteenth century, particularly the period 1820-1883. In a period in which Britannia so thoroughly 'rules the waves', how does English literature depict potentially monstrous creatures which inhabit the depths beneath? I argue that the literary relationship between monstrosity and the sea plays out through the language and metaphor of the material culture and public exhibition of animals in Britain at this time, including traveling whales carcasses, menageries, the Crystal Palace, early aquaria, and the London Zoological Society. The control conferred by this culture of display, however, is undermined by frustrating hybrid creatures populating structurally hybrid texts which ultimately destabilise the organisation they are often intended to cement. Furthermore, the monstrous potential of the sea creature on display is that, instead of being the trophy it is intended to be, the caught creature is an anxious avatar of the 'uncaught' or the 'unseen'. Also 'on display' in these texts is the human capacity - even propensity - to do violence in wild spaces, and consequently to repatriate that violence back on the terra firma of the empire.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: 19th century ; Literature ; Maritime ; Ecocriticism ; Material Culture ; Monstrosity