Synopses & Reviews
Jeannette King explores the representation of Victorian womanhood in the work of some of today's most important female novelists, including A.S. Byatt, Sarah Waters, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter and Toni Morrison. By analyzing these novels in the context of the scientific, religious and literary discourses that shaped Victorian ideas about gender, it contributes to an important interdisciplinary debate. While showing the power of these discourses to shape women's roles, the novels also suggest how individual women might challenge that power through their own lives.
About the Author
Jeannette King is Director of Women's Studies at the University of Aberdeen, UK. Her previous publications include Tragedy in the Victorian Novel; Doris Lessing and Women and the Word: Contemporary Women Novelists and the Bible.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements * Introduction * PART 1: WHAT IS A WOMAN? VICTORIAN CONSTRUCTIONS OF FEMININITY * Religious Prescriptions and Cultural Reflections * The Biological Sciences * An Unhealthy Mind in an Unhealthy Body? * Evolutionary Theory and the Social Sciences * Entering the Gender Debate * PART 2: THE DARWINIAN MOMENT: THE WOMAN THAT NEVER EVOLVED * Separate Species and Separate Spheres: Andrea Barrett, The Voyage of the Naywhal 1855-1856
* Darwin and Romantic Love: A.S. Byatt, Morpho Eugenia
* PART 3: 'CRIMINALS, IDIOTS, WOMEN AND MINORS': DEVIANT MINDS IN DEVIANT BODIES * Madwoman or Bad Woman? Margaret Attwood, Alias Grace
* Criminal Influence: Sarah Waters, Affinity
* PART 4: SUBVERSIVE SPIRITS: SPIRITIUALISM AND FEMALE DESIRE * 'Power Words': Victoria Glendinning, Electricity
* Gender and Poetry: A.S. Byatt, The Conjugial Angel
* Spiritualism, Psychology and History: MichÃ¨le Roberts, In the Red Kitchen
* PART 5: DEGENERATION AND SEXUAL ANARCHY * The Newly-born Woman: Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus
* Performing Gender: Sarah Waters, Tipping the Velvet
* PART 6: EVOLUTIONARY THOUGHT, GENDER AND RACE * 'Ain't I a Woman?': Toni Morrison's Beloved
* Afterword * Bibliography * Index