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Narrating the Nation: Britain in Gothic Literature, 1760-1820

Gadsby-Mace, C E (2016) Narrating the Nation: Britain in Gothic Literature, 1760-1820. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the work of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century British authors who set their Gothic literature in Britain between 1760 and 1820. It argues that many of these novels have previously been marginalised or excluded from studies of the genre because they do not conform to the recognised Gothic trope of displacing anxieties onto foreign Catholic settings. Rather, they represent Britain as a fertile terrain for Gothic events. In doing so, they interrogate its history, national identity, and politics, as well as directly engaging with the domestic and international crises of the Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Centuries. They display a keen awareness not only of the historical development of the nation, but with its refashioning during this period in response to the 1707 Act of Union, the Seven Years’ War, the loss of the American colonies, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars: all of which challenged and complicated national identity. By analysing the work of Clara Reeve, Charlotte Smith, William Henry Ireland, T. I. Horsley Curties and Walter Scott, this thesis demonstrates their shared preoccupation with the myth-making process of national history and collective identity formation, and with interrogating systems of power and leadership. ‘ Gothic’ developed as a historico-political term regarding the origins of British national identity, and as such the Gothic genre developed symbiotically alongside the Historical Romance and the national tale. Tracing the genesis of Gothic fiction back past Horace Walpole’ s 1764, The Castle of Otranto, to Thomas Leland’ s 1762 novel, Longsword, Earl of Salisbury: An Historical Romance, allows a new set of novels to be foregrounded in the genre. By refocusing critical attention on these texts, this project aims to extend the limits of this heterogeneous genre to include Gothic tales set in Britain. It also demonstrates the dialogue and dispute between Gothic texts as authors of disparate socio-political backgrounds engaged with one another through their fiction; borrowing, challenging, and redeploying generic tropes to support their political discourses.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > School of English (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Miss C E Gadsby-Mace
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2017 12:52
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 12:52
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17497

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