Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2013

Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Janet Gabler-Hover

Second Advisor

Dr. Audrey Goodman

Third Advisor

Dr. Nancy Chase



This dissertation analyzes the spatial relationships present in the late nineteenth-century literary narratives of Edith Wharton and Theodore Dreiser. Utilizing a Foucaultian theoretical framework for its analysis, this dissertation analyzes issues concerning female subjectivity, cultural norms, and spatial politics. This study will also argue that Wharton and Dreiser, anticipating the later theories of Michel Foucault, clearly understood the importance of social relationships to scruti-nized cultural spaces and of gender to issues of power. It will draw strong connections between naturalist narrative spaces and the late nineteenth-century culture’s growing fascination with new forms of industrialized time-keeping and with new forms of visual technology such as photog-raphy and early cinema. As will be shown, the late nineteenth-century placed an ever growing emphasis on the visual, on the time-table, on the cultural gaze, and on what Foucault would later analyze as panoptic surveillance within a thoroughly disciplinary and chronologically micro-managed society. In its interdisciplinary focus, this study also recognizes the general mirroring between nineteenth-century literature and twentieth-century film. Using the insights gained from the literary analysis of Wharton and Dreiser, the study then takes an interdisciplinary approach to interrogating how spatial relationships are revealed through selected representations of the 1940s Woman’s Film genre.