Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Michael Galchinsky

Second Advisor

Dr. Paul Schmidt

Third Advisor

Dr. Murray Brown


The Victorian governess occupied a difficult position in Victorian society. Straddling the line between genteel and working-class femininity, the governess did not fit neatly into the rigid categories of gender and class according to which Victorian society organized itself. This troubling liminality caused the governess to become implicitly associated with another disturbing domestic presence caught between worlds: the Victorian literary ghost. Using Henry James’s novella The Turn of the Screw as a touchstone for each chapter, this thesis examines how the spectral mirrors the governess’s own spectrality – that is, her own discursive construction as a psychosocially unsettling force within the Victorian domestic sphere.