Abstract/Details

The Architectural Subject: Space, Character, and Gender in Four Eighteenth-Century Domestic Novels

Chan, Mary Ming-Ching.   University of Alberta (Canada) ProQuest Dissertation & Theses,  2012. NR89376.

Abstract (summary)

This dissertation examines the impact of space, specifically domestic architecture, on the representation of female subjectivity in four eighteenth-century British domestic novels, Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa (1747–48), Frances Burney’s Cecilia (1782), Maria Edgeworth’s Belinda (1801), and Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814). I bring together theories of space, architectural histories, social histories of houses, eighteenth-century architectural treatises, and analyses of contemporaneous buildings and floor-plans to argue that spatial representations and metaphors in these novels test the composition and boundaries of female subjectivity. This testing is accomplished by treating subjects as spaces, specifically as houses whose exteriors are supposed to indicate their interior character. In other words, I examine what happens when an increasingly interiorized subject is represented as a literally interiorized structure, the house. For many heroines of eighteenth-century novels, this representation is dangerous because it could lead to the misinterpretation or misconstruction of character. One way of resisting such misrepresentation is found in the subject’s movement, particularly movement that evades attempts at fixing. The novels trace an increasing discomfort with constructions of the subject as divided along interior and exterior lines. At the century’s end, there is a shift away from questions about how space does or does not indicate character towards how space can facilitate the subject’s personal experiences and feelings, a shift that corresponds to the growing acceptance of the interiorized subject. But as this project demonstrates, until this shift occurs, attempts to fix character (particularly the character of women) exposed how uncertain and unstable the notion of the subject was for most of the eighteenth century.

Indexing (details)


Subject
British and Irish literature;
British & Irish literature
Classification
0593: British and Irish literature
Identifier / keyword
Language, literature and linguistics; Austen, Jane; Burney, Frances; Character; Domestic novels; Edgeworth, Maria; Gender; Richardson, Samuel; Space
Title
The Architectural Subject: Space, Character, and Gender in Four Eighteenth-Century Domestic Novels
Author
Chan, Mary Ming-Ching
Number of pages
272
Degree date
2012
School code
0351
Source
DAI-A 74/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
ISBN
978-0-494-89376-0
Advisor
Binhammer, Katherine
University/institution
University of Alberta (Canada)
Department
English and Film Studies
University location
Canada -- Alberta, CA
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertation or Thesis
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
NR89376
ProQuest document ID
1151847288
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
https://www.proquest.com/docview/1151847288