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Class and gender identity in 'male gothic' from Walpole to Byron

Darongsuwan, Nida (2008) Class and gender identity in 'male gothic' from Walpole to Byron. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to investigate works by major male writers of Gothic fiction-namely, Horace Walpole, William Beckford, Matthew Lewis and Lord Byron-in the context of the changing social and cultural climate of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The "male Gothic," as I will argue, represents a kind of social performance, and it is a subgenre of fiction in which there is a persistent engagement with questions of class and gender identity. Between around the 1760s and the 1820s, Britain started to witness the gradual decline of aristocratic cultural hegemony and a more vigorous self-assertion of the middle classes, which sought to regulate aristocratic "excess." Examining the self representation of the authors in question, alongside their morally and sexually transgressive works, this thesis will consider the "male Gothic" as a literary category that made possible the performance of implicitly oppositional class and gender identities, and provided a means of resisting emergent "middle-class" ideologies and values. Such a notion of "resistance," however, I will argue, also needs to be seen in the context of the writers' various attempts to offer their works to the public as both legitimate and pleasurable, and hence takes the form of an often playful vacillation between the licensed and the subversive, rather than any more absolute and uncompromising form of cultural opposition. Concluding by looking at the diverse but increasingly hostile reception of Byron's work in the 1820s and 1830s, this thesis will consider the backlash against the "male Gothic" more generally around this time, and it will suggest that Byron's work marks the high-point and, perhaps, the end-point of the genre

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.479504
Depositing User: EThOS Import (York)
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2016 16:59
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2016 16:59
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/14103

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