TitleSubversive bodies in nineteenth-century narratives of Paris and London
NameSokowski, Sandra (author), Diamond, Josephine (chair), Walker, Janet (internal member), Helfer, Martha (internal member), Baker, Geoff (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Social institutions in literature,
Human body in literature ,
Literature and society--England--History--19th century,
Literature and society--France--History--19th century
DescriptionIn this dissertation, Subversive Bodies in Nineteenth-Century Narratives of Paris and London, I compare representations of subversive bodies (transgressive women, revolutionaries, and monsters) in six paradigmatic French and British texts written from the beginning to the end of the nineteenth century and set in the metropolitan centers of Paris and London. This is an original comparative study of subversive bodies in the context of metanarratives of discipline and control. Working with Fredric Jameson’s concept of the political unconscious, and Michel Foucault’s work on discipline and the body, I analyze the articulation of contemporary scientific and sociological discourses in these novels to ultimately show how bodies that defy the dominant social order and ideology are effectively contained and silenced. In Mary Wollstonecraft’s The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria, the protagonist struggles to find a language that legitimates her experience as a moral subject in a female body, which gestures toward a narrative of subject formation that finds fissures in the institutions that define the female. In Claire de Duras’ Ourika, the material realities of the protagonist’s African body are erased through her narrative told in the discourse of the colonizer; in turn, her body disintegrates from an impossible longing to enter the symbolic order that denies subjectivity to her black body. In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens uses Edwin Chadwick’s construction of the working classes, and popular prejudices toward colonial subjects and political women, to inscribe the French revolutionary body with feminine hysteria, a projection of Victorian fears which serves to reaffirm the patriarchal hegemony of the British middle class. Victor Hugo’s configuration of the immaterial body of revolutionary leader Enjolras in Les Misérables reveals an ambiguous position toward discourses on the working class and conflicting narratives of bourgeois progress and social justice. In Emile Zola’s Nana, the demonized courtesan embodies the degenerating Second Empire, and the discourse of working class infection hints at the erasure of the Paris Commune. Lastly, the construction of the vampire that invades London in Bram Stoker’s Dracula consists of an over-determined conglomeration of medical and pseudo-scientific discourses that constructed veritable monsters.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Sandra Sokowski
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.