Gender and Discourse in Victorian Literature and Art
Antony H. Harrison, Beverly Taylor
This collection of original essays offers a broad and varied discussion of gender issues and treatments of sexuality in Victorian poetry, fiction, and visual arts. Featuring a representative selection of artists--poets, novelists, painters, sculptors, playwrights, and dancers--these critical analyses explore the ways in which women as artists, as subjects, and as icons function either to challenge and revise or to reify their society's gender ideologies. Enhanced by a diversity of approaches, the collection introduces revisionist readings of well-known literary works and examines interconnections between literature and the visual arts. In the first two parts, which address Victorian poetry and fiction, the readings illuminate previously unexplained features of poems and novels by such writers as Alfred Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Matthew Arnold, Christina Rossetti, A. C. Swinburne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Anne Bronte, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy, Kate Chopin, and Oscar Wilde. The third part of the collection focuses on the themes of gender conventions and subversions that occur in visual representations--paintings and cartoons, sculpture and architectural reliefs, drama, opera, and music-hall dance. Rather than presenting literature and art as self-contained, the collection advances the assumption that creative works participate in a larger ideological current of society. Thus, where relevant, the contributors reference politics, economics, science, and other modes of cultural discourse. Such an approach retrieves the historical contexts surrounding the production and reception of the poetry, fiction, and visual arts examined.