Saturday, June 15, 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013 1:27 am by M. in , ,    No comments
A new scholar book just published:
Female Victorian Fiction:Shaping the Reader's Mind
Petra Schenke
Optimus Verlag
ISBN 9783863760397

From the original 19th-century philosophical, scientific and literary texts, we have seen how the first professional female novelists under Queen Victoria's tutelage have succeeded in shaping readers' minds. This research focuses on Victorian prose that has either won the esteem of its contemporary audience and/or has been popularized by 20th- and 21st-century critics. Conservative efforts to educate young Victorian minds through 'quality literature' according to high standards of morality were hampered in the second half of the 19th century by the dramatization of scandal and crime in the popular sensation novel. The need for instructed learning alongside the evolutionary development of natural talents and moral propensities has been carefully acknowledged by renowned authoresses. With a different approach previously neglected by British literary scholars we have explored the educational relevance of foreign language and literature inside the Victorian female novel. Additionally, through reading about the emotional experiences of Victorian women (and men) in fiction from an informed modern point of view, we should gain a deeper understanding of the intricate psychological designs used by 19th-century female writers.
Readjusting Reality in Fiction: the Particular Role of Female Writers in the Victorian Era. 

These days, female writers form an important and natural part of the literary scene. Women authors and editors on the covers of bestselling books are omnipresent. In her book Female Victorian Fiction: Shaping the Reader’s Mind, Dr. Petra Schenke deals with a time when female authorship was still in its infancy. During the reign of Queen Victoria, in 19th-century England, their acceptability had to improve considerably before the first female professional novelists could establish themselves. How these Victorian authoresses have influenced readers' views is the main issue in Dr. Schenke’s book. She describes the difficult situation of female writers in the patriarchal society of Victorian England and gives an insight into the educational system of that time as well as into the general make-up of Victorian society and culture. For this purpose, Dr. Schenke includes the educational ideal of the Victorian Era and plays with certain relevant cultural conventions of 19th-century England. To familiarize the reader with her topic, Dr. Schenke combines genre theories and socio-historical aspects in analytical sequences. Literary traditions and gender issues are both given considerable attention. “The major aim of this book is not, though, to celebrate the literary achievements of the so-called New Women, who may have indeed contributed to female professionalism but more importantly wished to achieve women’s equality in the Common Law. We will instead follow the hypothesis that women authors in the second half of the 19th century took the chance to readjust reality in fiction to deal with contemporary gender prejudices.” In this context, the analysis and interpretation of specific gender-scenes in the female Victorian novel reveals a critical undertone towards dominant male views and social practices. One of the best-known female Victorian writers is, according to statistical insights, Charlotte Brontë. Her novel Jane Eyre is still being classified as pioneering and enjoys great popularity. Thus, Charlotte Brontë is given special attention in the context of female Victorian fiction and its impact on her timeless readership; but also lesser known authoresses of the time are being rediscovered by Dr. Schenke. Focused on the interdependence of education and literature, the book allows a deeper understanding of the intricate psychological designs used by female Victorian writers. Currently, Dr. Petra Schenke is doing research on the role of women in art and literature in multicultural Britain. She has worked as an English teacher at secondary schools in Germany for many years. Dr. Schenke’s dissertation at the University of Hamburg focused on teaching literature in the advanced English classroom. With this in mind, her book Female Victorian Fiction: Shaping the Reader’s Mind addresses not only cultural experts and literary scholars it may also be very interesting for (prospective) teachers and educationalists. (Julia Pfrötschner)
Charlotte Brontë is discussed in chapter eight: Charlotte Brontë and foreign culture.


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