Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English



First Committee Member

Beth Rosenberg, Chair

Second Committee Member

Megan Becker-Leckrone

Third Committee Member

Nicholas V. LoLordo

Graduate Faculty Representative

Ralph Beuchler

Number of Pages



This dissertation focuses on Modern British literary culture and the construction of literary sites of nostalgia through architecture and landscape. The project considers examples from D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Ford Madox Ford, and Evelyn Waugh, and examines how these authors employ presentations of architecture in their narratives to portray the irrevocably altered landscape of modernity.

The introduction presents the notion of national consciousness and literature, moving from Lukacs' conception of the historical novel to Victorian art critics John Ruskin and Walter Pater and their writings on national identity and architecture. Twentieth-century European culture responded to the trauma of the Great War with an outpouring of artistic production examining the transformations of the modern era. The importance of commemoration and the preservation of cultural images influence the creation of culturally nostalgic spaces within the novel. Beginning with John Ruskin's architectural theory in The Stones of Venice and The Seven Lamps of Architecture and Walter Pater's aesthetic interiors in Imaginary Portraits , I highlight ideas of architectural topography embodying national identity. I trace this theory through the modern novel and responses to the Great War and cultural nostalgia.

Chapter One "The Domestic Ravages of War: D.H. Lawrence and the Home Front," examines the way in which the industrial post-war era intersects with architecture and social space in the work of D.H. Lawrence. Ruskin's influence pervades Lawrence's work, particularly in descriptions of the domestic postwar landscape. I consider portrayals of homes and landscapes of rural England in The Rainbow, Women in Love, Lady Chatterley is Lover, The Virgin and the Gypsy as well as Lawrence's early short stories. Chapter Two, "Woolf and the Familial Structure of Mourning," focuses on how the Victorian conception of nostalgia is transformed in post-WWI novels of Virginia Woolf. Pater's interiors and aesthetic responses influence Woolf's portrayals of family homes and mourning. Using Jacob's Room, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, The Waves , and Carlyle's House and Other Sketches , I highlight Woolf's use of familial sites to express emptiness, displacement, and pain reflective of a fragmented post-war culture.

Chapter Three, "Ford Madox Ford's and the Dismantling of England," explores Ford's tetralogy Parade's End as a chronicle of the demise of English heritage through the physical destruction of its homes and gardens. Chapter Four, "The English Country House and Evelyn Waugh: Mourning Modernity," explores Waugh's use of domestic architecture in both the early novels, including Decline and Fall, Vile Bodies , and A Handful of Dust as well as the later nostalgic works, Put Out More Flags and Brideshead Revisited . His novels blend the Ruskinian notion of architecture as national identity and Paterian attention to nostalgia and interiors; they use architecture to both mourn the onslaught of modernity and foreshadow the decline of English culture.

My conclusion highlights the ways in which these modernist writers craft a collective nostalgia within their texts based on architectural referents. It also points to the legacy of architecture and memory in post-modern writers like Kazuo Ishiguro and Penelope Lively, who continue to develop the signifiers provided by cultural landscape and architecture to explore history, memory, and nostalgia in a century of violence. Finally, I draw a link the communicative properties of the legacy of English literary interiors in post-colonial fiction. Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North is an example of contemporary writers addressing their colonial relationship and identity with England through the use of interior spaces and architectural topography.


Architecture; British; British literature; Irish literature; Lawrence; D. H.--(David Herbert); --1885-1930; Nostalgia; Waugh; Evelyn; --1903-1966; Woolf; Virginia; --1882-1941


Architecture | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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