Romanticism, Gender and Surveillance, 1780-1830

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Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Original languageEnglish
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Award date2018
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Abstract

This thesis explores various modalities of gendered surveillance in the Romantic period between 1780 and 1836. I am interested in the ways in which surveillance was explicitly gendered, in the range of situations in which women experienced surveillance, emotionally, psychologically and physically, as different to men. This thesis asks what kinds of resilience did women develop to surveillant mechanisms? How did art and literature process and reflect on surveillance? I also consider continuities between gendered forms of surveillance in the Romantic period and women’s experiences of asymmetric inspection today. These questions are pursued across a broad range of material, including plays; newspaper adverts; letters; diaries; poems; novels; medical treatises; cartoons; paintings; Old Bailey transcripts; architectural plans; and government reports. I examine once popular but now neglected texts such as Sophia Lee’s The Chapter of Accidents, Charlotte Smith’s What Is She? and Joanna Baillie’s The Alienated Manor, alongside more familiar works such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘Christabel’, Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of An English Opium-Eater, as well as Percy Shelley’s The Witch of Atlas, Byron’s Sardanapalus and Pierce Egan’s Life in London