Sunday, May 15, 2022

Sunday, May 15, 2022 12:30 am by M. in , , ,    No comments
A couple of new Brontë-related new theses:
2022, Bachelor of Arts (BA), Ohio University, English.

This thesis explores the prevalence of disability in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette and how conceptions of race, gender, wellness, and physical appearance within Victorian England influence the novel’s conceptions of disability. Several authors such as Brontë took to literature to attempt to depict and understand what constitutes disability and how disability determines individuals’ perceived social status and value. Relying on Lennard Davis’s theory of disability/impairment—that impairment relates to the actual loss of a biological function while disability relates to society’s unwillingness to accommodate this loss—this thesis suggests that the disabled identity is socially constructed, and that the hierarchies of race, gender, wellness, and physical appearance helped produce how the Victorians understood disability. Villette has created a divide between disability studies scholars, as some are convinced that Brontë creates an ableist narrative in the novel, while others suggest that she represents disabled characters as integral and accepted parts of society. By exploring four main bodily dichotomies shown in the novel, including the English vs. the foreign body, the pretty vs the plain body, the reproductive vs. the working body, and the healthy vs. the ill body, I suggest that Villette both affirms and denies the worth of the social hierarchies that create disability. Observing the ambiguity in Villette allows for a greater understanding of the construction of “normality” within texts, and the subjective, evolving nature of the norm of the human body.
Escobedo, Reymundo. 
California State University, Fresno

Utilizing Julia Kristeva’s theory of abjection and Judith Butler’s gender performance theory, this thesis explores how Anne Brontë, and Elizabeth Gaskell destabilize Victorian dichotomies of female identity and behavior through performances of widowhood in their novels, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) and Ruth (1853). Both novelists place their heroines, Helen, and Ruth, in state of abjection which correlates to a state of moral fallenness. In their states of abjection, both heroines must carve physical,
social, and cultural spaces for themselves in Victorian culture and the Victorian symbolic order; however, to do so, Helen and Ruth must perform the widow. As widows, culture grants Helen and Ruth sociocultural privileges, hierarchizing them over idealized and appropriate female identities and behaviors. Placed above other women in Victorian culture, Helen and Ruth utilize their space to challenge Victorian culture’s treatment of the fallen woman directly and indirectly. As a result, Brontë and Gaskell reveal to Victorian audiences that identity is arbitrary, and thus, the identity of the fallen woman and culture’s treatment of her is unjust. 


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