Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

LeeAnne Richardson

Second Advisor

Tanya Caldwell

Third Advisor

Paul Schmidt


Investigating how film and serialized adaptations interpret feminist Victorian novels for a more modern audience yields decades of cultural responses to feminist motifs presented by nineteenth-century authors Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Anne Brontë, and twentieth-century writer Jean Rhys. Analyzing Northanger Abbey (1817) by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre (1847) by Charlotte Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) by Anne Brontë, and Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) by Jean Rhys and their adaptations demonstrates the nonlinearity of feminism as a political movement. The novels and their film and television adaptations reveal an ongoing and recursive response to feminism’s development. I discuss adaptation, in film, television, and novel in relation to the novels’ primary motif—feminism—to gauge cultural responses to the novels’ feminist motifs and not place a hierarchical value on the novel by investigating how film adaptations in different decades have interacted with and re-represented or even distanced themselves from the novels’ motifs. In keeping the original feminist motifs of the authors’ works in mind while analyzing the works’ adaptations, we engage with the cultural anxieties surrounding feminism in each cultural moment. There is never one clear answer for why an adaptation either maintains, deforms, or enlarges on these feminist motifs, but by engaging, they interpret and express Austen’s, Charlotte Brontë’s, Anne Brontë’s, and Rhys’ work.


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