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Change of Condition: Women's Rhetorical Strategies on Marriage, 1710-1756

Description: This dissertation examines ways in which women constructed and criticized matrimony both before and after their own marriages. Social historians have argued for the rise of companionacy in the eighteenth century without paying attention to women's accounts of the fears and uncertainties surrounding the prospect of marriage. I argue that having more latitude to choose a husband did not diminish the enormous impact that the choice would have on the rest of a woman's life; if anything, choice might increase that impact. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Hester Mulso Chapone, Mary Delany, and Eliza Haywood recorded their anxieties about and their criticisms of marriage in public and private writings from the early years of the century into the 1750s. They often elide their own complex backgrounds in favor of generalized policy statements on what constitutes a good marriage. These women promote an ideal of marriage based on respect and similarity of character, suggesting that friendship is more honest, and durable than romantic love. This definition of ideal marriage enables these women to argue for more egalitarian marital relationships without overtly calling for a change in the wife's traditional role. The advancement of this ideal of companionacy gave women a means of promoting gender equality in marriage at a time when they considered marriage risky but socially and economically necessary.
Date: December 2005
Creator: Wood, Laura Thomason
Partner: UNT Libraries

Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell

Description: Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell examines the Restoration and eighteenth-century libertine figure as it appears in John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester's Satyr against Mankind, "The Maim'd Debauchee," and "Upon His Drinking a Bowl," Thomas Shadwell's The Libertine, William Wycherley's The Country Wife, and James Boswell's London Journal, 1762-1763. I argue that the limitations and self-contradictions of standard definitions of libertinism and the ways in which libertine protagonists and libertinism in general function as critiques of libertinism. Moreover, libertine protagonists and poetic personae reinterpret libertinism to accommodate their personal agendas and in doing so, satirize the idea of libertinism itself and identify the problematization of "libertinism" as a category of gender and social identity. That is, these libertines misinterpret-often deliberately-Hobbes to justify their opposition and refusal to obey social institutions-e.g., eventually marrying and engaging in a monogamous relationship with one's wife-as well as their endorsement of obedience to nature or sense, which can include embracing a libertine lifestyle in which one engages in sexual encounters with multiple partners, refuses marriage, and questions the existence of God or at least distrusts any sort of organized religion. Since any attempts to define the word "libertinism"-or at least any attempts to provide a standard definition of the word-are tenuous at best, it is equally tenuous to suggest that any libertines conform to conventional or standard libertinism. In fact, the literary and "real life" libertines in this study not only fail to conform to such definitions of libertinism, but also reinterpret libertinism. While all these libertines do possess similar characteristics-namely affluence, insatiable sexual appetites, and a rebellion against institutional authorities (the Church, reason, government, family, and marriage)-they often misinterpret libertinism, reason, and Hobbesian philosophy. Furthermore, they all choose different, unique ways to oppose patriarchal, social authorities. These aberrant ways ...
Date: May 2008
Creator: Smith, Victoria
Partner: UNT Libraries

Paradox and Balance in the Anglo-Saxon Mind of Beowulf

Description: This essay argues that the Anglo-Saxon poet of Beowulf presents the reader with a series of paradoxes and attempts to find a balance within these paradoxes. At the forefront is the paradox of past and present, explored through the influence of the past on the characters in the poem as well as the poet. Additionally, the poem offers the paradox of light and dark, which ultimately suggests light and dark as symbols of Christianity and paganism. Finally, the land and the sea offer the third primary paradox, indicating the relationship that the characters and poet had with land and sea, while also reflecting the other paradoxes in the poem. The result is the desire to find balance within the paradoxes through the recognition of ongoing tension.
Date: May 2008
Creator: Fox, Bonnie L.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Superior Mirth: National Humor and the Victorian Ego

Description: This project traces the wide and varied uses of patriotic (and, at times, jingoistic and xenophobic) humor within the Victorian novel. a culture’s humor, perhaps more than any other cultural markers (food, dress, etc.), provides invaluable insight into that nation’s values and perceptions—not only how they view others, but also how they view themselves. in fact, humor provides such a unique cultural thumbprint as to make most jokes notoriously untranslatable. Victorian humor is certainly not a new topic of critical discussion; neither is English ethno-cultural identity during this era lacking scholarly attention. However, the intersection of these concerns has been seemingly ignored; thus, my research investigates the enmeshed relationship between these two areas of study. Not only do patriotic sentiment and humor frequently overlap, they often form a causational relationship wherein a writer’s rhetorical invocation of shared cultural experiences creates humorous self-awareness while “inside” jokes which reference unique Anglo-specific behaviors or collective memories promote a positive identity with the culture in question. Drawing on and extending the work of James Kincaid’s Dickens and the Rhetoric of Laughter, Harold Nicolson’s “The English Sense of Humor,” and Bergson’s and Freud’s theories of humor as a social construct, I question how this reciprocated relationship of English ethnic identity and humor functions within Victorian novels by examining the various ways in which nineteenth-century authors used humor to encourage affirmative patriotic sentiment within their readers.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Stober, Katharyn L.
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Afro-British Slave Narrative: The Rhetoric of Freedom in the Kairos of Abolition

Description: The dissertation argues that the development of the British abolition movement was based on the abolitionists' perception that their actions were kairotic; they attempted to shape their own kairos by taking temporal events and reinterpreting them to construct a kairotic process that led to a perceived fulfillment: abolition. Thus, the dissertation examines the rhetorical strategies used by white abolitionists to construct an abolitionist kairos that was designed to produce salvation for white Britons more than it was to help free blacks. The dissertation especially examines the three major texts produced by black persons living in England during the late eighteenth centuryIgnatius Sancho's Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho (1782), Ottobauh Cugoano's Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery (1787), and Olaudah Equiano's The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789)to illustrate how black rhetoric was appropriated by whites to fulfill their own kairotic desires. By examining the rhetorical strategies employed in both white and black rhetorics, the dissertation illustrates how the abolitionists thought the movement was shaped by, and how they were shaping the movement through, kairotic time. While the dissertation contends that the abolition movement was rhetorically designed to provide redemption, and thus salvation, it illustrates that the abolitionist's intent was not merely to save the slave, but to redeem blacks first in the eyes of white Christians by opening blacks to an understanding and acceptance of God. Perhaps more importantly, abolitionists would use black salvation to buy back their own souls and the soul of their nation in the eyes of God in order to regain their own salvation lost in the slave trade. But ironically, they had to appear to be saving others to save themselves. So white abolitionists used the black narratives to persuade their overwhelmingly white audience ...
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Date: December 1999
Creator: Evans, Dennis F.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Monsters Like Us: Reexamining “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” Through the Decades

Description: The purpose of this paper is to examine the multiple versions of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" in concert and determine the reason for their continued presence in the American cultural landscape. To do so I will look at the novel and four films and examine the context in which they were created. In reexamining the novel and films, a central theme begins to emerge: interiority. Fear in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" moves from an external to an internal threat. The bodily locus of the monstrous other has been re-purposed and re-projected outward. The internal nature of the monstrous threat is displayed in the narrative’s use of production and distribution, mental health professionals, pseudo-families, and the vilification of sleep. Finally, this paper will examine the studio influence on the various films and their impact on the relative endings.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Norton, Elizabeth Harmon
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Gender of Time in the Eighteenth-century English Novel

Description: This study takes a structuralist approach to the development of the novel, arguing that eighteenth-century writers build progressive narrative by rendering abstract, then conflating, literary theories of gendered time that originate in the Renaissance with seventeenth-century scientific theories of motion. I argue that writers from the Renaissance through the eighteenth century generate and regulate progress-as-product in their narratives through gendered constructions of time that corresponded to the generation and regulation of economic, political, and social progress brought about by developing capitalism.
Date: December 1998
Creator: Leissner, Debra Holt
Partner: UNT Libraries

Jezebel's Daughters: A Study of Wilkie Collins and His Female Villains

Description: The term "feminist," when applied to Wilkie Collins, implies he was concerned with rectifying the oppression of women in domestic life as well as with promoting equal rights between the sexes. This study explores Collins the "feminist" by analyzing his portrayals of women, particularly his most powerful feminine creations: his villainesses. Although this focus is somewhat limited, it allows for a detailed analysis of the development of Collins's attitudes towards powerful women from the beginning to the end of his career. It examines the relationship between Collins's developing moral attitudes and social beliefs, on the one hand, and the ideas of Victorian feminists such as Josephine Butler and feminist sympathizers such as John Stuart Mill, on the other. This interaction, while never overt, reveals the ambivalence and complexity of Collins's "feminist" attitudes. Of the five novels in this study, Antonina (1850), Basil (1852), Armadale (1866), Jezebel's Daughter (1880), and The Legacy of Cain (1889), only one was published at the zenith of Collins's career in the 1860s. Each of the villainesses in these novels, their ideas and experiences, are crucial to understanding Collins's "feminist" impulses. Looking at them as powerful women who detest domestic oppression, one becomes aware that Collins feared such powerful women. But at the same time, he found something fiercely attractive about them. One also realizes that he was never fully capable of breaking the prevailing literary conventions which dictated that wickedness be punished and virtue rewarded (The Legacy of Cain is perhaps an exception, depending on how one views Helena's feminist revolution). The reading of Collins's novels offered in this study presents a broad, eclectic approach, utilizing the tenets of a number of different theoretical approaches such as new historicism, psychoanalytic criticism, and deconstruction, as well as feminist criticism. It contextualizes Collins's novels and his "feminist" ...
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Date: August 2000
Creator: Colvin, Trey Vincent
Partner: UNT Libraries

Corporate Christians and Terrible Turks: Economics, Aesthetics, and the Representation of Empire in the Early British Travel Narrative, 1630 - 1780

Description: This dissertation examines the evolution of the early English travel narrative as it relates to the development and application of mercantilist economic practices, theories of aesthetic representation, and discourses of gender and narrative authority. I attempt to redress an imbalance in critical work on pre-colonialism and colonialism, which has tended to focus either on the Renaissance, as exemplified by the works of critics such as Stephen Greenblatt and John Gillies, or on the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as in the work of scholars such as Srinivas Aravamudan and Edward Said. This critical gap has left early travel narratives by Sir Francis Moore, Jonathan Harris, Penelope Aubin, and others largely neglected. These early writers, I argue, adapted the conventions of the travel narrative while relying on the authority of contemporary commercial practices. The early English travelers modified contemporary conventions of aesthetic representation by formulating their descriptions of non-European cultures in terms of the economic and political conventions and rivalries of the early eighteenth century. Early English travel literature, I demonstrate, functioned as a politically motivated medium that served both as a marker of authenticity, justifying the colonial and imperial ventures that would flourish in the nineteenth century, and as a forum for experimentation with English notions of gender and narrative authority.
Date: December 2003
Creator: Abunasser, Rima Jamil
Partner: UNT Libraries

Samuel Richardson's Revisions to Pamela (1740, 1801)

Description: The edition of Pamela a person reads will affect his or her perception of Pamela's ascent into aristocratic society. Richardson's revisions to the fourteenth edition of Pamela, published posthumously in 1801, change Pamela's character from the 1740 first edition in such a way as to make her social climb more believable to readers outside the novel and to "readers" inside the novel. Pamela alters her language, her actions, and her role in the household by the end of the first edition; in the fourteenth edition, however, she changes in little more than her title. Pamela might begin as a novel that threatens the fabric of class hierarchies, but it ends-both within the plot and externally throughout its many editions-as a novel that stabilizes and strengthens social norms.
Date: August 2004
Creator: Bender, Ashley Brookner
Partner: UNT Libraries

“True Image Pictur’d”: Metaphor, Epistemology, and Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Description: In this dissertation, I examine the influence of Pyrrhonist skepticism over Shakespeare’s sonnets. Unlike academic skepticism, which begins from a position of doubt, Pyrrhonist skepticism encourages an embrace of multiple perspectives that, according to Sextus Empiricus, leads first to a suspension of judgment and ultimately to a state of tranquility. The Pyrrhonian inflection of Shakespeare’s sonnets accounts for the pleasure and uncertainty they cultivate in readers. By offering readers multiple perspectives on a given issue, such as love or infidelity, Shakespeare’s sonnets demonstrate the instability of information, suggesting that such instability can be a source for pleasure. One essential tool for the uncertainty in the sonnets, I argue, is the figurative language they draw from a variety of fields and discourses. When these metaphors contradict one another, creating fragmented images in the minds of readers, they generate a unique aesthetic experience, which creates meaning that transcends the significance of any of the individual metaphors. In the first two chapters, I identify important contexts for Shakespeare’s sensitivity to the pliability of figurative language: Reformation-era religious tracts and pamphleteers’ debates about the value and function of the theater. In Chapter 3, I examine Shakespeare’s response to the Petrarchan tradition, arguing that he diverges from the sonneteers, who often use figurative language in an attempt to access and communicate stable truths. Shakespeare creates epistemological instability in sonnets both to the young man and to the dark lady, and, as I argue in Chapter 4, this similarity offers readers an opportunity to think beyond traditional divisions between the two sonnet subsequences.
Date: May 2014
Creator: Kellogg, Amanda O.
Partner: UNT Libraries

No Slip-Shod Muse: A Performance Analysis of Some of Susanna Centlivre's Plays

Description: In 1982, Richard C. Frushell urged the necessity for a critical study of Susanna Centlivre's plays. Since then, only a handful of books and articles briefly discuss herand many attempt wrongly to force her into various critical models. Drawing on performativity models, my reading of several Centlivre plays (Love's Contrivance, The Gamester, The Basset-Table and A Bold Stroke for a Wife) asks the question, "What was it like to see these plays in performance?" Occupying somewhat uneasy ground between literature and theatre studies, I borrow useful tools from both, to create what might be styled a New Historicist Dramaturgy. I urge a re-examination of the period 1708-28. The standard reading of theatre of the period is that it was static. This "dry spell" of English theatre, most critics agree, was filled with stock characters and predictable plot lines. But it is during this so-called "dry spell" that Centlivre refines her stagecraft, and convinces cautious managers to bank on her work, providing evidence that playwrights of the period were subtly experimenting. The previous trend in scholarship of this cautious and paranoid era of theatre history has been to shy away from examining the plays in any depth, and fall back on pigeonholing them. But why were the playwrights turning out the work that they did? What is truly representative of the period? Continued examination may stop us from calling the period a "dry spell." For that purpose, examining some of Centlivre's early work encourages us to avoid the tendency to study only a few playwrights of the period, and to avoid the trap of focusing on biography rather than text. I propose a different kind of aesthetic, stemming from my interest in the text as precursor to performance. Some of these works may not seem fertile ground for theorists, but discarding ...
Date: May 2000
Creator: Herrell, LuAnn R. Venden
Partner: UNT Libraries

Personal Properties: Stage Props and Self-Expression in British Drama, 1600-1707

Description: This dissertation examines the role of stage properties-props, slangily-in the construction and expression of characters' identities. Through readings of both canonical and non-canonical drama written between 1600 and 1707-for example, Thomas Middleton's The Revenger's Tragedy (1607), Edward Ravenscroft's adaptation of Titus Andronicus (1678), Aphra Behn's The Rover (1677), and William Wycherley's The Plain Dealer (1677)-I demonstrate how props mediate relationships between people. The control of a character's props often accords a person control of the character to whom the props belong. Props consequently make visual the relationships of power and subjugation that exist among characters. The severed body parts, bodies, miniature portraits, and containers of these plays are the mechanisms by which characters attempt to differentiate themselves from others. The characters deploy objects as proof of their identities-for example, when the women in Behn's Rover circulate miniatures of themselves-yet other characters must also interpret these objects. The props, and therefore the characters' identities, are at all times vulnerable to misinterpretation. Much as the props' meanings are often disputed, so too are characters' private identities often at odds with their public personae. The boundaries of selfhood that the characters wish to protect are made vulnerable by the objects that they use to shore up those boundaries. When read in relation to the characters who move them, props reveal the negotiated process of individuation. In doing so, they emphasize the correlation between extrinsic and intrinsic worth. They are a measure of how well characters perform gender and class rolls, thereby demonstrating the importance of external signifiers in the legitimation of England's subjects, even as they expose "legitimacy" as a social construction.
Date: December 2009
Creator: Bender, Ashley Brookner
Partner: UNT Libraries

W. B. Yeats's "The Cap and Bells": Its Sources in Occultism

Description: While it may seem that "The Cap and Bells" finds its primary source in Yeats's love for Maud Gonne, the poem is also symbolic of his search for truth in occultism. In the 1880s and 90s Yeats coupled his reading of Shelley with a formal study of magic in the Golden Dawn, and the poem is a blend of Shelleyan and occult influences. The essay explores the Shelleyan/occult motif of death and rebirth through examining the poem's relation to the rituals, teachings, and symbols of the Golden Dawn. The essay examines the poem's relation to the Cabalistic Tree of Life, the Hanged Man of the Tarot, two Golden Dawn diagrams on the Garden of Eden, and the concept of Kundalini.
Date: May 1995
Creator: Saylor, Lawrence (Lawrence Emory)
Partner: UNT Libraries

Wayward Women, Virtuous Violence: Feminine Violence in Restoration and Eighteenth-Century British Literature by Women

Description: This dissertation examines the role of "acceptable" feminine violence in Restoration and eighteenth-century drama and fiction. Scenes such as Lady Davers's physical assault on Pamela in Samuel Richardson's Pamela (1740) have understandably troubled recent scholars of gender and literature. But critics, for the most part, have been more inclined to discuss women as victims of violence than as agents of violence. I argue that women in the Restoration and eighteenth century often used violence in order to maintain social boundaries, particularly sexual and economic ones, and that writers of the period drew upon this tradition of acceptable feminine violence in order to create the figure of the violent woman as a necessary agent of social control. One such figure is Violenta, the heroine of Delarivier Manley's novella The Wife's Resentment (1720), who murders and dismembers her bigamous husband. At her trial, Violenta is condemned to death "notwithstanding the Pity of the People" and "the Intercession of the Ladies," who believe that although the "unexampled Cruelty [Violenta] committed afterwards on the dead Body" was excessive, the murder itself is not inexcusable given her husband's bigamy. My research draws upon diverse archival materials, such as conduct manuals, criminal biographies, and legal records, in order to provide a contextual grounding for the interpretation of literary works by women. Moving between contemporary accounts of feminine violence and discussions of pertinent literary works by Eliza Haywood, Susanna Centlivre, Delarivier Manley, Aphra Behn, Mary Pix, and Jane Wiseman, the dissertation examines issues of interpersonal violence and communal violence committed by women.
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Date: May 2000
Creator: Collins, Margo
Partner: UNT Libraries

Sharing the Light: Feminine Power in Tudor and Stuart Comedy

Description: Studies of the English Renaissance reveal a patriarchal structure that informed its politics and its literature; and the drama especially demonstrates a patriarchal response to what society perceived to be the problem of women's efforts to grow beyond the traditional medieval view of "good" women as chaste, silent, and obedient. Thirteen comedies, whose creation spans roughly the same time frame as the pamphlet wars of the so-called "woman controversy," from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth centuries, feature women who have no public power, but who find opportunities for varying degrees of power in the private or domestic setting.
Date: May 1994
Creator: Tanner, Jane Hinkle
Partner: UNT Libraries

Wuthering Heights: A Proto-Darwinian Novel

Description: Wuthering Heights was significantly shaped by the pre-Darwinian scientific debate in ways that look ahead to Darwin's evolutionary theory more than a decade later. Wuthering Heights represents a cultural response to new and disturbing ideas. Darwin's enterprise was scientific; Emily Brontë's poetic. Both, however, were seeking to find ways to express their vision of the nature of human beings. The language and metaphors of Wuthering Heights suggest that Emily Brontë's vision was, in many ways, similar to Darwin's.
Date: August 1993
Creator: Bhattacharya, Sumangala
Partner: UNT Libraries