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Hand that rocks the crime fiction cradle: British, American and Australian women's criminographic narratives, 1860-1880.

Watson, Kate. 2010. Hand that rocks the crime fiction cradle: British, American and Australian women's criminographic narratives, 1860-1880. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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'The hand that rocks the cradle' is a phrase indicative of motherhood, the world, and change. When applied to women's criminographic narratives, it can be read in terms of a challenge to the hegemonic belief in male writers as the founding 'fathers' of the crime and detective genre. This study will examine women's criminous narratives in Britain, North America, and Australia from 1860-1880, with the purpose of bringing to light women writers who have hitherto - and for the majority - been excluded from what has been seen as the masculine crime canon. Men have long been expounded in critical work on crime and detective fiction and women writers have frequently been eclipsed by male authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, and Arthur Conan Doyle. I seek to redress this masculine-centric view of the genre and its development: I aim to show that contrary to this viewpoint, women were both present from the start and were significantly contributing towards the formation of the crime and detective genre as we now know it. The period chosen has recurrently been perceived as an interstitial space, though I contend that this epoch, rather than representing vacuity, is central to the formation of the crime and detective form: while the genre was still nascent, the melange of sub genres in this period saw the establishment of the foundations for what was to follow. Authors considered from Britain include Catherine Crowe, Caroline Clive, Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, and Mrs Henry (Ellen) Wood. From North America, I discuss Harriet Prescott Spofford, Louisa May Alcott, Metta Victoria Fuller Victor, and Anna Katharine Green, and from Australia, the writing of Celeste de Chabrillan, 'Oline Keese' (Caroline Woolmer Leakey), Eliza Winstanley, Ellen Davitt, and Mary Helena Fortune. This thesis inspects these women's work in terms of that of their male contemporaries and of their national/historical and societal background. The importance of their crime writing demonstrates the need for a feminine reconstruction of the canon of crime/detective fiction.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
P Language and Literature > PS American literature
ISBN: 9781303197246
Funders: AHRC, Menzies Centre (King's College London)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:30

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