Date of Award

12-10-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Leeanne Richardson

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Galchinsky

Third Advisor

Dr. Paul Schmidt

Abstract

This study applies the ethical theories of Emmanuel Levinas to the novels and short stories of the major New Woman novelists of the fin de siècle in England. Chapter One introduces the study and its theoretical framework. Chapter Two discusses how New Woman writers confront their protagonists with ethical dilemmas framed as face-to-face encounters that can be read as the moment of ethics formation. They also gesture toward openness and indeterminacy through their use of carnivalesque characters. In Chapter Three, Levinas’s concepts of the said and the saying illuminate readings of polemical passages that interrogate the function of language to oppress or empower women. Chapter Four reads dreams, visions, allegories, and proems as mythic references to a golden age past that reframe the idea of feminine altruism. Chapter Five employs Levinas’s vision of the tragic artist to read New Woman Kunstlerroman. Chapter Six, the conclusion to the study, summarizes the underlying framework, the process that initiated the study, and considers implications for further research.

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