Visuality in the Novels of Austen, Radcliffe, Edgeworth and Burney
188 pages
English

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188 pages
English

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Description

Visuality in the Novels of Austen, Radcliffe Edgeworth and Burney offers new insights into vision, fiction and depiction by exploring how the visual details in women’s novels published between 1778 and 1815 are more telling about gender politics than scholars have previously acknowledged.


There are many factors that contributed to the proliferation of visual codes, metaphors and references to the gaze in women’s fiction of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. 'Visuality in the Novels of Austen, Radcliffe, Edgeworth and Burney' argues that the visual details in women’s novels published between 1778 and 1815 are more significant than scholars have previously acknowledged. Its innovative study of the oeuvres of Jane Austen, Ann Radcliffe, Maria Edgeworth and Frances Burney shows that visuality – the continuum linking visual and verbal communication – provided women writers with a methodology capable of circumventing the cultural strictures on female expression in a way that allowed for concealed resistance. Visuality empowered them to convey the actual ways in which women ‘should’ see and appear in a society in which the reputation was image-based.


The discussion moves from self-referential coordinates exterior to the self in the novels of Austen and Radcliffe to the drama of reflections, fashion and the minutiae of coded self-display in the novels of Edgeworth and Burney. The analysis engages with scholarly critiques drawn from literature, art history, optics, psychology, philosophy and anthropology to assert visuality’s multidisciplinary influences and diplomatic potential. The non-chronological structure embraces overlapping themes rather than the illusion of a conclusive departure from the reciprocity between the appearance and the essence.


'Visuality in the Novels of Austen, Radcliffe, Edgeworth and Burney' explores how in fiction and in actuality, women negotiated four scopic forces that determined their ‘looks’ and manners of looking: the impartial spectator, the male gaze, the public eye and the disenfranchised female gaze. In a society dominated by ‘frustrated utterance’, penetrating gazes and the perpetual threat of misinterpretation, women novelists used references to the visible and the invisible to comment on emotions, socioeconomic conditions and patriarchal abuses. Austen, Radcliffe, Edgeworth and Burney provide ideal case studies in this regard because they were culturally representative figures who also experimented with and contributed to different approaches to the novel. This book thus offers new insights into verbal economy and the gender politics of the era spanning the Anglo-French War and the Battle of Waterloo by reassessing expression and perception from a uniquely telling yet largely overlooked point of view. 


Foreword by Caroline Jane Knight; Preface; Introduction: Visuality in Profile; 1. Jane Austen’s Aesthetic Vocabulary of Character; 2. Ann Radcliffe’s Gothic Reconstructions of Female Identity and Experience; 3. The Gendered Gaze and ‘Made-up’ Women in Maria Edgeworth’s 'Castle Rackrent', 'Ennui' and 'Belinda'; 4. Optical Allusions in Frances Burney’s 'Evelina' and 'The Wanderer'; Conclusion; Selected Bibliography; Index.

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Publié par
Date de parution 01 mars 2017
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781783086627
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0076€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Exrait

Visuality in the Novels of Austen, Radcliffe, Edgeworth and Burney
ANTHEM NINETEENTH-CENTURY SERIES
The Anthem Nineteenth-Century Series incorporates a broad range of titles within the fields of literature and culture, comprising an excellent collection of interdisciplinary academic texts. The series aims to promote the most challenging and original work being undertaken in the field, and encourages an approach that fosters connections between areas including history, science, religion and literary theory. Our titles have earned an excellent reputation for the originality and rigour of their scholarship, and our commitment to high-quality production.
Series Editor
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst – University of Oxford, UK
Editorial Board
Dinah Birch – University of Liverpool, UK
Kirstie Blair – University of Stirling, UK
Archie Burnett – Boston University, USA
Christopher Decker – University of Nevada, USA
Heather Glen – University of Cambridge, UK
Linda K. Hughes – Texas Christian University, USA
Simon J. James – Durham University, UK
Angela Leighton – University of Cambridge, UK
Jo McDonagh – King’s College London, UK
Michael O’Neill – Durham University, UK
Seamus Perry – University of Oxford, UK
Clare Pettitt – King’s College London, UK
Adrian Poole – University of Cambridge, UK
Jan-Melissa Schramm – University of Cambridge, UK
Visuality in the Novels of Austen, Radcliffe, Edgeworth and Burney
Jessica A. Volz
Anthem Press
An imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company

www.anthempress.com

This edition first published in UK and USA 2017

by ANTHEM PRESS
75–76 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HA, UK
or PO Box 9779, London SW19 7ZG, UK
and
244 Madison Ave #116, New York, NY 10016, USA

© Jessica A. Volz 2017

The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

A catalog record for this book has been requested.

ISBN-13: 978-1-78308-660-3 (Hbk)
ISBN-10: 1-78308-660-2 (Hbk)

This title is also available as an e-book.
For Mom, Dad and Adrian
CONTENTS
Foreword Caroline Jane Knight
Preface
Introduction. Visuality in Profile
1. Jane Austen’s Aesthetic Vocabulary of Character
2. Ann Radcliffe’s Gothic Reconstructions of Female Identity and Experience
3. The Gendered Gaze and ‘Made-up’ Women in Maria Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent , Ennui and Belinda
4. Optical Allusions in Frances Burney’s Evelina and The Wanderer
Conclusion
Selected Bibliography
Index
FOREWORD
A storyteller wants the audience to imagine a character, scene or situation in their mind’s eye. The clearer the mental image is, the greater the connection and engagement with the story. A vague picture with little recognition is unlikely to hold a reader’s interest. Detailed descriptions can be used to create a precise image, or a writer can achieve a similar outcome by allowing the audience to paint a picture that empowers a subjective frame of reference. In today’s world, storytellers tend to rely more heavily on ‘high-resolution’ visual aids than on telling silhouettes. We have witnessed images of natural wonders, cultures, inventions and disasters and are able to envision lives and situations that are far removed from our own. We are bombarded with a constant stream of graphics, photographs and moving pictures. Some of these images are designed to build relationships, while others are destined to provoke a reaction.
Storytelling has always been about visualization and vicarious experiences. The level of detail needed to communicate has changed as culture and technology have developed. Visuality in the Novels of Austen, Radcliffe, Edgeworth and Burney is the first book to analyse how four of the most prolific late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century women novelists were able to articulate certain thoughts and conjure particular images through self-conscious narration. Despite their individual perspectives and distinct contributions to the evolution of the novel, Jane Austen, Ann Radcliffe, Maria Edgeworth and Frances Burney all relied on visuality – a continuum linking the visual and the verbal in a way that creates a shortcut between communication and understanding. As this book explores, their use of visuality served as a form of strategic communications, making their novels relevant to disciplines ranging from literature and diplomacy to art history and film.
Austen confined her writing to characters, situations and surroundings that her audience would be familiar with. She was a minimalist when it came to descriptive details, granting her readers the artistic license to paint their own mental images. We are merely given the following verbal portrait of Mr Darcy: ‘Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien’. Readers are left to fill in the blanks when imagining his face, hair, eyes and clothes. Austen does not ask us to picture her idea of the perfect man but to imagine our own. Perhaps that is why, 200 years later, Darcy is considered to be one of the best-drawn and most universal romantic heroes of all time.
As the last of the Austen descendants to grow up in the Great House in Chawton, the country manor belonging to Jane’s brother Edward (my fourth great-grandfather), I have known about Mr Darcy for as long as I can remember. Austen’s characters are, through her use of visuality, immediately recognizable. Almost every reader can relate to the essence of her characters, skilfully painted with a few carefully chosen words, and identify similar traits in their friends and family. For readers in some countries, the limited rights and earning opportunities that women faced during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are readily translatable.
If Austen, Radcliffe, Edgeworth and Burney had not been able to read and write, the world would be a more lacklustre place without their novel contributions. Inspired by Great-Aunt Jane’s success, I started the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation (JALF) in her honour. JALF works with the Jane Austen community and industry to raise funds to provide literacy resources for communities in need across the world. Reading and writing are essential skills that empower individuals to participate in society and pursue their dreams. As Visuality in the Novels of Austen , Radcliffe, Edgeworth and Burney attests, literacy and self-expression are fundamental forces that change the way we see and perceive the world around us, in literature and in life.
Caroline Jane Knight
Founder and Chair, Jane Austen Literacy Foundation
Raising funds to buy literacy resources, in honour of Jane
PREFACE
‘If adventures will not befall a young woman in her own village, she must seek them abroad.’ And with Northanger Abbey ’s opening axiom echoing in my mind, I set out from the Highlands of Denver to explore visuality and its intriguing inherence in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century British women’s novels. Visuality, which functions as a continuum linking visual and verbal modes of communication and understanding, empowered women novelists at a time when self-expression was particularly constrained for their sex, allowing them to control the gaze and speak through pictures. My analysis of the novels of Jane Austen, Ann Radcliffe, Maria Edgeworth and Frances Burney demonstrates that visuality provided them with a coded methodology capable of depicting and negotiating the ways in which women ‘should’ see, appear and think in a society in which the reputation was image based.
I have relished writing a book that offers fresh insights into a particularly beguiling chapter in British literature. My research unfolded in a small, tea-stocked room in St Andrews that though draughty, featured a mesmerizing view of the mercurial North Sea, with its frothy tempests and righteous rainbows. Like the Scottish weather, my doctoral studies were a subject of total immersion and the substance of which novels are made. My quest for understanding the dynamics between the visual and the verbal, the ‘seeable’ and the describable in women’s novels published between 1778 and 1815 prompted productive pilgrimages to a number of key destinations: Chawton House Library, Jane Austen’s House Museum, the Wallace Collection, the Royal Academy of Arts, the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum, the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, the Bodleian Libraries, King’s College (Cambridge) Library, Blenheim Palace, King’s Lynn, the Musée Jacquemart-André, the Château de Malmaison and even Buckingham Palace. Perhaps nothing could have surpassed the thrill of speaking at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge’s Pride and Prejudice bicentenary conference, which culminated in a proper Regency ball led by renowned dance master Stuart Marsden.
I am thankful for the scholars, writers, artists and actors who, directly or indirectly, knowingly or unknowingly, helped me find my path – a path that straddles literature, art, strategic communication

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