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Anne Brontë's New Women: Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as Precursors of New Woman Fiction

Description: Anne Brontë's Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall were published more than forty years before the appearance of the feminist type that the Victorians called the “New Woman;” yet, both novels contain characteristics of New Woman fiction. By considering how Brontë's novels foreshadow New Woman fiction, the reader of these novels can re-enact the “gentlest” Brontë as an influential feminist whose ideology informed the construction of the radical New Woman. Brontë, like the New Woman writers, incorporated autobiographical dilemmas into her fiction. By using her own experiences as a governess, Brontë constructs Agnes Grey's incongruent social status and a morally corrupt gentry and aristocracy through her depiction of not only Agnes's second employers, the Murrays, but also the morally debauched world that Helen enters upon her marriage to Arthur Huntingdon in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Moreover, Brontë incorporates her observations of Branwell's alcoholism and her own religious beliefs into The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Although Brontë's novels contain autobiographical material, her heroines are fictional constructions that she uses to engage her readers with the woman question. Brontë accomplishes this engagement through her heroines' narrative re-enactments of fictional autobiographical dilemmas. Helen's diary and Agnes's diary-based narrative produce the pattern of development of the Bildungsroman and foreshadow the New Woman novelists' Kunstlerromans. Brontë's heroines anticipate the female artist as the protagonist of the New Woman Kunstlerromans. Agnes and Helen both invade the masculine domain of economic motive and are feminists who profess gender definitions that conflict with dominant Victorian ideology. Agnes questions her own femininity by internalizing the governess's status incongruence, and Helen's femininity is questioned by those around her. The paradoxical position of both heroines anticipates the debate about the nature and function of art in which the New Woman writers engaged. Through her reconciliation of the aesthetic ...
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Date: August 2001
Creator: Phillips, Jennifer K.

John Graves and the Pastoral Tradition

Description: John Graves's creative non-fiction has earned him respect in Texas letters as a seminal writer but scarce critical commentary of his work outside the region. Ecological criticism examines how language, culture and the land interact, providing a context in which to discuss Graves in relation to the southwestern literary tradition of J. Frank Dobie, Walter P. Webb, and Roy Bedichek, to southern pastoral in the Virgilian mode, and to American nature writing. Graves's rhetorical strategies, including his appropriation of form, his non-polemical voice, his experimentation with narrative persona, and his utilization of traditional tropes of metaphor, metonymy, and irony, establish him as a conservative and Romantic writer of place concerned with the friction between traditional agrarian values and the demands of late-twentieth-century urban/technological existence. Sequentially, Graves's three main booksGoodbye to a River (1960), Hard Scrabble (1974), and From a Limestone Ledge (1980)represent a movement from the pastoral mode of the outward journey and return to the more domestic world of georgic, from the mode of leisure and contemplation to the demands and rewards of hard work and ownership. As such they represent not only progression or maturation in the arc of the narrator's life but a desire to reconcile ideological poles first examined so long ago in Virgil: leisure and work, freedom and responsibility, rural and urban values.
Date: August 2001
Creator: Anderson, David Roy

Luke's Mama

Description: A creative nonfiction thesis, Luke's Mama is a memoir of personal essays that explore how the birth of my son has affected the ways that I relate within and interpret different areas of my life. Chapter I, Introduction, identifies personal and ethical concerns involved in telling my story and explores how others have handled similar issues. Chapter II, Family, illustrates how my relationship with my family of origin has changed since I've become a parent and also how my new family and I interact with society. Chapter III, Calling, depicts my struggle in finding a balance between work and family priorities. Chapter IV, Partner, presents a contrast between my relationship with my partner before and after my son's birth. Chapter V, Parent, displays the beginning of my ever-growing relationship with my son and sense of parenthood.
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Date: August 2001
Creator: Howell, Melissa

Moral Training for Nature's Egotists: Mentoring Relationships in George Eliot's Fiction

Description: George Eliot's fiction is filled with mentoring relationships which generally consist of a wise male mentor and a foolish, egotistic female mentee. The mentoring narratives relate the conversion of the mentee from narcissism to selfless devotion to the community. By retaining the Christian value of self-abnegation and the Christian tendency to devalue nature, Eliot, nominally a secular humanist who abandoned Christianity, reveals herself still to be a covert Christian. In Chapter 1 I introduce the moral mentoring theme and provide background material. Chapter 2 consists of an examination of Felix Holt, which clearly displays Eliot's crucial dichotomy: the moral is superior to the natural. In Chapter 3 I present a Freudian analysis of Gwendolen Harleth, the mentee most fully developed. In Chapter 4 I examine two early mentees, who differ from later mentees primarily in that they are not egotists and can be treated with sympathy. Chapter 5 covers three gender-modified relationships. These relationships show contrasting views of nature: in the Dinah Morris-Hetty Sorrel narrative, like most of the others, Eliot privileges the transcendence of nature. The other two, Mary Garth-Fred Vincy and Dolly Winthrop-Silas Marner, are exceptions as Eliot portrays in them a Wordsworthian reconciliation with nature. In Chapter 6 I focus on Maggie Tulliver, a mentee with three failed mentors and two antimentors. Maggie chooses regression over growth as symbolized by her drowning death in her brother's arms. In Chapter 7 I examine Middlemarch, whose lack of a successful standard mentoring relationship contributes to its dark vision. Chapter 8 contains a reading of Romola which interprets Romola, the only mentee whose story takes place outside nineteenth-century England, as a feminist fantasy for Eliot. Chapter 9 concludes the discussion, focusing primarily on the question why the mentoring theme was so compelling for George Eliot. In the Appendix I examine ...
Date: August 2001
Creator: Schweers, Ellen H.

Parts of Women

Description: Parts of Women contains a scholarly preface that discusses the woman's body both in fiction and in the experience of being a woman writer. The preface is followed by five original short stories. "Parts of Women" is a three-part story composed of three first-person monologues. "Controlled Burn" involves a woman anthropologist who discovers asbestos in her office. "Tango Lessons" is about a middle-aged woman who's always in search of her true self. "Expatriates" concerns a man who enters the lives of his Hare Krishna neighbors, and "Rio" involves a word-struck man in his attempt to form a personal relationship.
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Date: May 2001
Creator: Murphy, Maria Christine