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Title: Women in residence : forms of belonging in Jane Austen
Author: Dashwood, Rita J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8497 5955
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis investigates the centrality of non-portable property - the house - in Austen's fictional landscapes, in particular her portrayal of the ways in which her female characters establish feelings of ownership and belonging towards houses they are not legally entitled to own. Austen's novels therefore offer ways of thinking about property that would not be legitimised by the law for several decades after her death. As I demonstrate, through her novels Austen offers more than just a critique of the current property laws and the ways in which they leave women in a precarious situation: she shows how women can circumvent the limitations of the law, in order to develop a sense of purpose for themselves and express their identities through the spaces they create and occupy. In doing so, she legitimises female ownership of property in a way that is distinctly emancipatory. This work is interdisciplinary in nature, in the sense that it draws on the dialogue on women and property, management, education and accomplishments as present in such non-fictional sources as conduct books, diary entries and letters, as well as fictional works of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It at once engages with and challenges social history by exploring the ways in which fiction can represent experiences of ownership that a sole focus on legal discourse would overlook. Through my analysis of Austen's representations of the various relationships women can form with the spaces they inhabit, I encourage a revision of the common conception we currently hold of ownership as something that is dependent on a legal right. This conception, as I argue, is unhelpful in understanding Austen's depiction of women's relationships with property, as well as the ways in which people more generally conceptualise such relationships.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature