TitleWomen in the city
NameEliášová, Věra (author), Smith, Carol (chair), Buckley, Mathew (internal member), Williams, Carolyn (internal member), Regulska, Joanna (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
SubjectLiteratures in English,
Flaneurs in literature,
Women in literature,
City and town life in literature
DescriptionMy dissertation follows the trajectory of female flânerie in women’s writing from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. I analyze the transformations of female urban subjectivity in the works of Charlotte Brontë, Katherine Mansfield, Jean Rhys, and Virginia Woolf. These writers imagine female characters and narrators as urban subjects whose sense of self develops in the dangerous and attractive spaces of the modern city. I target those moments in which female flâneurs collapse the perceptual distance between themselves and the city so that their imagination fuses with urban space.
In my first chapter, I explain the concept of the flâneur as an urban walker and spectator, a central figure in urban modernity. I trace the transformations of the female flâneur in the urban culture of spectacle, and underscore the indispensible role of the flâneuse for modernist literary experimentation. In the second chapter on Brontë’s Villette (1853), I focus on the heroine’s struggle for independence and agency as an urban spectator. Next I treat Katherine Mansfield’s short story, “The Tiredness of Rosabel” (1918), and Jean Rhys’s novel, Good Morning, Midnight (1939), showing how these writers employ the flâneuse’s subjective fragmentation in order to imagine a new urban self that opens toward urban space. My study culminates with the analysis of Woolf’s writing, especially “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown (1923), Mrs. Dalloway (1925), and A Room of One’s Own (1929), in which she moves beyond the conventions of realism to emphasize the contingency and mystery of city life. Her characters and narrators come to life only in urban exchanges. Drawing on this kind of reciprocity between the flâneuse and the city, I argue that Woolf breaks new ground in articulating a provisional kind of collectivity between urban dwellers that becomes a base for future women’s writing.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 160-168)
Noteby Věra Eliášová
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.