Award Date

12-1-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Committee Member

Timothy Erwin

Second Committee Member

Anne Stevens

Third Committee Member

Evelyn Gajowski

Fourth Committee Member

Michelle Tusan

Number of Pages

276

Abstract

Remember the Country and the Age in Which We Live” argues that the British Gothic novels produced in the late eighteenth century were not, as has traditionally been assumed, written in reaction against Enlightenment values in the face of rising political and social discord. Instead, I contend that eighteenth-century Gothic novels take part in a larger tradition of the novel that sought to impart the values of Enlightenment into a modernist genre still on the rise. By exploring the influence of Samuel Richardson on the development of the Gothic novel, the role of formal and informal educational structures, representations of political ideology, and the intensive use of aesthetics in its generic shape and articulation, I seek to demonstrate the importance of Enlightenment values in the Gothic. I also argue that the Gothic aligns irrationality with villains and social/political chaos in order to establish the importance of rationality and order to the Gothic tradition. Finally, I assess the Gothic’s place in the tradition of the novel and in the tradition of the Enlightenment more generally, and argue that the Gothic requires serious scholarly and critical reassessment in order to move away from previous readings that saw it as a fictional deviation, and instead reposition it and its lasting impact on the larger traditions of Enlightenment and the novel in the West.

Keywords

Ann Radcliffe; Clara Reeve; Gothic Novel; Mary Wollstonecraft; Matthew Lewis; William Godwin

Disciplines

English Language and Literature

Language

English

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