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Making room: British women writers, social change, and the short story, 1850--1940

Dissertation
Author: Kathryn Leigh Krueger Henderson
Abstract:
Making Room: British Women Writers, Social Change, and the Short Story, 1850-1940 reveals how women writers participated in the contentious debates regarding women that dominated the Victorian and modernist periods. Stories written by Elizabeth Gaskell, M.E. Braddon, George Egerton, Evelyn Sharp, and Katherine Mansfield commented decisively upon contemporary anxieties in Britain and its colonies about where women could live and travel, how they could be identified, and whether they could be contained. This study's exploration of the ways in which location inflects codes of conduct offers critics a new way of considering how ideologies regarding gender roles in a growing middle-class society are constructed within spaces like the home, the city, and the frontier. Moreover, by addressing the critically neglected form of the short story within the context of periodical publications, this project participates in the recovery of an entire field of fiction that played a substantive role in the literary marketplace of the Victorian and modernist periods. By publishing their works in the rapidly expanding periodical press, these women writers inspired social change by altering the way that people viewed the world--and the women--around them. The first two chapters of this project analyze how the hearthside, the drawing room, and the threshold become sites of crisis in stories that dramatize anxieties regarding middle-class definitions of family and marital relations. The second half of the dissertation examines how massive shifts in populations affected perceptions of women in the streets, omnibuses, and stairwells of London and the terrain of the British colonies. As protagonists in these stories self-consciously perform alternate gendered identities in those unstable locations, they dismantle prevalent categories of femininity. Each of the four chapters offers a case study of the ways a particular writer used their chosen periodical venue to develop a unique form of short fiction. The chapters examine Elizabeth Gaskell's 'Cranford' series in Household Words , Mary Braddon's Belgravia ghost stories, Evelyn Sharp and George Egerton's New Woman stories in the Yellow Book , and Katherine Mansfield's contributions to the modernist magazine Rhythm .

TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF FIGURES iv INTRODUCTION 1 CHAPTER ONE. REGARDING CRANFORD: ELIZABETH GASKELL AND THE READERS OF HOUSEHOLD WORDS 17 Charles Dickens and Household Readers 23 "Our Society at Cranford" 26 "Memory at Cranford" 36 Cranford's Ethical Economy 43 CrariforcPs, Inclusive Household 53 CHAPTER TWO. DOMESTIC DISTURBANCES: THE UNCANNY HOME IN M.E. BRADDON'S GHOST STORIES 56 Plotting Marriage: The Terrors of Marital Reform in Fact and Fiction 62 Sensational Apparitions: "Eveline's Visitant" 65 Haunting the Country House in "Sir Philip's Wooing" 74 The Specter of Affection: "John Granger: A Ghost Story" 83 Mary Elizabeth Braddon's Psychic Invasions 92 CHAPTER THREE. POSSESSING LONDON, PERFORMING FEMININITY: THE NEW WOMAN IN THE YELLOW BOOK. 96 The Yellow Book's Brief Innovations 103 Conveying Femininity: Evelyn Sharp's "In Dull Brown" 107 "The Other Anna": Posing the New Woman 116 Confronting Modernity in George Egerton's "A Lost Masterpiece" ....127 A Shifting Landscape 136 CHAPTER FOUR. KATHERINE MANSFIELD'S COLONIAL RHYTHM 140 The Rhythm of modernism 149 "The Woman at the Store" 153 "How Pearl Button Was Kidnapped" 169 Addressing Colonial Identity 182 CONCLUSION 185 BIBLIOGRAPHY 193 in

LIST OF FIGURES 1. Colored lithograph, c. 1865. "Scene in Regent Street. Philanthropic Divine: 'May I beg you to accept this good little book. Take it home and read it attentively. I am sure it will benefit you.' Lady: 'Bless me, Sir, you're mistaken. I am not a social evil, I am only waiting for a bus.'" 1 2. Landscape painting by Henri Manguin. Rhythm 4 (Spring 1912): 9, in University of Iowa Special Collections 159 3. Drawing of goat by Albert Marquet. Rhythm 4 (Spring 1912): 12, in University of Iowa Special Collections 161 4. Nude Study by Lionel Halpert. Rhythm 4 (Spring 1912): 15, in University of Iowa Special Collections 163 5. Figure 5. Sketch of a heron by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. Rhythm 8 (September 1912): 138, in University of Iowa Special Collections 171 IV

1 I NTRODUCTI ON Figure 1. Colored lithograph, c. 1865. "Scene in Regent Street. Philanthropic Divine: 'May I beg you to accept this good little book. Take it home and read it attentively. I am sure it will benefit you.' Lady: 'Bless me, Sir, you're mistaken. I am not a social evil, I am only waiting for a bus.'" This lively illustration, printed in 1865, humorously encapsulates the confusion surrounding women's roles in the public spaces of Victorian London.1 Even as a burgeoning middle-class society attempted to demarcate Woman's sphere as solely domestic and emphasize the primary importance of the marital relationship, women could be found defying those definitions as single women, spinsters, friends, and lovers This illustration is reprinted in Lynda Nead's Myths of Sexuality (181).

2 gathered in one another's homes, walked on streets, rode trains and omnibuses, and migrated to colonies. This dissertation examines how women short story writers exposed the gaps in ideologies regarding gender roles and representational spaces in the discursive site of the periodical. Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Braddon, Evelyn Sharp, George Egerton, and Katherine Mansfield all lay bare the insufficiency of narrow conceptions of gender and space by depicting protagonists who cross boundaries. Each author interrogates, whether overtly or implicidy, the ideologies of gender and social space that dominate particular cultural moments by narrating a wider, more complicated field of women's experience. Gendered spaces—the way we understand social interactions in terms of the spaces wherein they occur—are necessarily fluid and complex, varying according to time, location, and the acts that occur within them. Defining gendered space is thus a process that is also always in process. For example, when the woman in the aforementioned illustration stands alone on the street awaiting an omnibus in London, she violates Victorian codes of conduct by being unchaperoned in a public arena that in mid- Victorian society is defined as predominately male. As a result, she is misconstrued by others as a prostitute "loitering" in wait for a salacious business proposition. The man's assumption shows that space can become freighted with symbolic meanings that have implications for culture at large. However, this comic scene also mocks the naivete of the male philanthropist who makes such a judgment, demonstrating that many different women actually occupy the streets of mid-Victorian London. As geographer Doreen Massey explains, space is designated through both the lived practices and the symbolic meanings that are attached to it (251). Consequently, both concrete acts and the representations of acts within certain spaces inevitably affect the way that gender is constructed and understood. Jane Rendell, by extension, argues that the "gendering of space" occurs through a "series of performed movements between men and women, both real and ideal, material and metaphoric, which are constructed and represented through

3 social relations of looking and moving" (106). Space and gender are related, then, by the way we experience locations in their relation to the bodies and behaviors that occupy them. Gendered space cannot be easily reduced to dichotomous definitions of public and private spheres, and yet, a wealth of literary criticism focuses solely on the existence of separate spheres in this era. Nancy Duncan aptly describes the instability of the distinction between public and private spaces. She argues that "the public/private dichotomy (both the political and spatial dimensions) is frequently employed to construct, control, discipline, confine, exclude and suppress gender and sexual difference preserving traditional patriarchal and heterosexist power structures" (128). The body of work that has explored gender ideologies of the nineteenth century has thoroughly tracked the detrimental effects of these ideological distinctions upon both men and women. Moving away from the artificial and much-used dichotomy of public and private spheres, the examinations of these stories explore how the boundaries of social spaces are both physically and symbolically manifested. Social spaces can encourage certain prescriptive gender roles. At the same time, as sites of transgression, these spaces can also operate as platforms through which social actors widen definitions of femininity. By informing discussions of Victorian and modernist gender ideologies with models of constructed social space prevalent in cultural geography, this study offers us a new perspective on how, precisely, actual architectural and environmental features of space—the hearthside, the threshold, the omnibus, the stairwell, the street, the beach, the garden, die gate— become encoded by the way actors move and perceive one another within them. Victorian and modernist writers reflected a preoccupation with gender in their works because this issue was central to the way people attempted to define their world during this period of cultural change. The "Woman Question," an ongoing debate regarding Woman's role and proper place in society, raged in print. At the same time, shifts in publication practices resulted in the development of the short story as a popular

4 and relatively open form of literary output. Women writers engaged with these controversies regarding the place of women in society by seizing the short story as an avenue of literary expression. Previous to the 1820s, short narratives did exist, but largely in more oral forms such as folktales, short romances, fables, and ballads, which were "for the most part allegorically code-bound rather than realistically mimetic" (May The Short Story 21). The shift away from allegory meant that characters were no longer presented as psychic projections, but were seen as "real" human beings (47). As short stories began to adopt the techniques of nineteenth-century realism, the narratives portrayed a social context with believable characters and concrete details, but the brevity of the story meant that this was not simply a pared-down version of the realist novel. 2 Structurally, the short story is not merely shorter than the novel, but is plotted differently than the longer form. Peter Brooks, in his notable exploration of the novelistic plot, argues that it is important to consider not just what a narrative is, but what it is for, why it is told, and what it seeks to say and do (236). In order to show the differences between what the novel and the short story say and do, allow me to briefly juxtapose Peter Brooks' explanation of the novel's form and function with short story theorist Charles May's discussion of the elements of the short story. Peter Brooks usefully explains that the novel's plot is essentially the logic of the narrative. A novel's plot is driven by the attempt to achieve a blocked desire. Each chapter offers a postponement or deviance that * This study resists the critical tendency to privilege the novel as the primary literary contribution to Victorian and modernist thought and, in doing so, offers a crucial critical consideration of the short story's impact on cultural conversations. I drastically depart from Mary Louise Pratt's assessment that the short story's experimentalism comes as a result of it being used as a "controlled lab for preliminary testing" of literary devices dtat, once perfected, are deployed in the mature form of the novel ("The Short Story" 97). In fact, Victorians were already aware of the narratological distinctions between die novel and the short story. Edgar Allan Poe acknowledged the short story as a unique form in his now-famous review of Hawthorne's Twice-Told Tales in the May 1842 Graham's Magazine, when he argued that the plot of the short story was not simply a series of events, but was imbued with an overall pattern and unity (May The Short Story 109). This "unity" relied on tone and was geared toward a revelatory moment.

5 prevents the narrative from reaching that goal, building tension through repetition until finally, at the end, the desire is eventually achieved and the narrative leads back into the calm, re-established order of the fictional world (103). This version of narrative pacing requires a long development, a gradual unfolding, and subservience to the larger narrative pattern which always serves the primary goal of release and return to quiescence. While die novel establishes and furthers a narrative pattern that also, implicidy, provides a social model that condones the pursuit of acceptable desires, the short story pulls us out of those systems in moments that challenge the kind of social order that is created and sustained by the novelistic narrative. Charles May usefully explains that because the short story is too compressed to create characters through detailed social interactions, it refuses to heighten narrative tension through plotted repetition. Instead, the short story tends to focus on instances that lift the reader out of the everyday in the moment in which 'reality' is challenged ("Why Short Stories" 24). That is, while the novel works to create verisimilitude through detail and the reader follows a recognizable pursuit of a desirable goal that will eliminate a temporary disruption, the short story focuses on moments when characters find their safe and systematic world dismanded or destroyed (May "The Nature" 142). A novel allows a momentary disruption in order to reinforce its narrative and social system through the right marriage or the right death, while the short story's focus is on die irrevocable impact of the disruption itself. As Walter Benjamin succincdy points out, the reader of die short story is then left die work of interpretation; in the short story's recounting of experience, the trutii is embodied, not explained (89). Unlike the novel, which follows a traditional structure that relies on a mode of ordering through exposition and an eventual resolution (Brooks 6), die short story gestures toward an often-implicit message. For example, Jane Austen's eponymous heroine Elizabeth Bennet, after exclaiming "Till diis moment, I never knew myself upon discovering die true natures of her male suitors, has two hundred pages within which to

6 rectify her mistake and achieve an ideal marriage (202). However, Jean Moreen, the New Woman heroine of Evelyn Sharp's "In Dull Brown," following her realization that her beau cannot accept her identity as a working woman, leaves the reader with the reverberating statement that nobody will fall in love with a clever and capable person (199). Her failure to secure a marriage leaves the heroine—and the reader—in a state of romantic uncertainty. The elimination of an extended chronological progression and the refusal to provide explanation or closure thus results in a form that has been repeatedly described as one of crisis and dislocation, of loneliness and epiphany.3 The alienation from the everyday, the refusal of a gradual narrative arc, the singular focus on an isolated place, a single moment, a lone character, all typify the unique elements of the short story. The short story's focus on the disruption of a world calls attention to the boundaries of daily life by overtly reversing the novel's narrative drive toward re establishing those borders. In turn, spaces are crucial in short stories because they are the locations of that metamorphosis, wherein characters often find themselves in a world made suddenly unfamiliar. The social boundaries encoded in the plots of the short story become evident through their dissolution. The spaces wherein action takes place in the short story serve as more than just general settings. Instead, as sites of crisis, they become symbolically charged locations. The social space embedded in a story provides the symbolic frame that, when breached, can become the catalyst of characters' realizations. I examine how the short story provides women writers a way to challenge the cultural codes of society by depicting normative spaces as sites of crisis. Locations such as the fireside, the threshold, the street, and the frontier operate symbolically within the ^ There are a myriad number of critics who have made these claims. James Joyce famously applied the religious term "epiphany" to the sudden revelations of psychological, moral, and cultural realities that occur in his short stories collected in Dubliners (xxxv). Frank O'Connor's landmark study of the short story, The Lonely Voice, argued that the genre revolved around submerged populations at the fringes of society. More recently, Charles May has observed that short stories often display an intense awareness of human loneliness (The Short Story 30).

7 context of stories, even as they resonate with larger cultural concerns about the place of women in society. The sites of crisis depicted by the writers of this study facilitate the breakdown of gender norms. Doreen Massey explains that spatial control, enforced through the power of convention, symbolism, and the threat of violence, is a fundamental element in the constitution of gender (180). In both fact and fiction, women's experiences are framed by social and spatial boundaries. When women's lives are bound by particular parameters, how then do short stories that revolve around a sudden movement out of those systems of 'reality' also depend upon the breakdown of those spatial definitions of selfhood? I consider how five women writers adopt various permutations of the short story as they respond to particular social controversies by highlighting certain sites of crisis as both formal and ideological constructs. Charles May aptly explains that, though the short story is a universal theoretical mode, historically determined variations of the genre do exist, such as the local color story and the gothic story of the nineteenth century, or the impressionistic story of the early twentieth century ("Prolegomenon" 465). In contrast to novels of the Victorian period, which became locked into rigid three-volume formats and controlled by such conventions as the realist marriage plot, the formal brevity of short stories allowed for a kind of narrative freedom to explore other patterns of experience. The writers of this study used particular subgenres that catered to their chosen periodical venue's ideological focus even as those formal parameters allowed them to address key sites of crisis in their cultural moment. Women writers used die formal attributes of those subgenres to register unconventional cultural inquiries and experiences ranging from guilt over rejected lovers to identification with abused victims of colonization. As female protagonists experienced moments of crisis at the sites of the familial hearth and domestic threshold, the streets and buses of London, and the frontiers of a formerly British colony, the purported 'reality' of gender roles shifted. The writers I discuss in this study played a part in constituting social change by representing, through short fiction, divergent

8 perspectives regarding social space and gendered relations. Embedded within the pages of periodicals dedicated to engaging the reader of the day, the short fiction I analyze dramatizes through both form and content the unexpected breakdown of social and spatial boundaries. The pages of periodical literature became a key site wherein these debates regarding gender and social change were embodied through narrative. Periodicals physically offered page-space to numerous kinds of fiction, but their construction and content were also ideologically inflected by each periodical's particular ethos. Thus, these publications were also a discursive space dictated partially by editorial decisions regarding content and form. Despite these limitations, the sheer number of periodicals being published and the variety of content included within individual periodicals provided an unprecedented level of options for publication. The vast increase in periodical publications began during the Victorian period, spearheaded by the dramatic popularity of Charles Dickens' new format of the weekly magazine Household Words in 1850. Bringing more fiction to more readers at a lower cost, these periodicals offered a forum for both established writers like Elizabeth Gaskell and new professionals such as Mary Braddon. Some reached as many as 100,000 readers while offering an alternative to the much more stringently controlled book market for new material (Mays 17). Later, the modernist market shifted to coterie publications with a smaller circulation that elevated avant-garde aesthetics. The greatest factor in the tightening marketplace for novels was Mudie's Select Circulating Library, which was established in 1842 and asserted a virtual stranglehold on the book trade by buying first editions of three-volume novels in large quantities. These books were priced above the means of the average reader. Consequently, this practice encouraged readers who wanted to consume new fiction to subscribe to circulating libraries like Mudie's, which rigidly enforced censorious practices by buying only sanitized works deemed suitable for family reading (Brantlinger and Thesing 3). Authors,

9 in turn, needed the patronage of such lending libraries to make their initial editions profitable. They sometimes suffered when the content of their work was not deemed morally appropriate, as when Mudie's banned select novels of George Meredith and George Moore. In addition, short manuscripts were often rejected because publishers would have to sell a greater number in order to turn a profit (Mays 15). In contrast, by avoiding the formal constraints of the mree-volume novel, the high cost of purchasing and producing first editions, and the rigid censorship of the circulating libraries, a growing variety of writers published their work in periodicals. The periodical press, which accepted a massive amount of short fiction, became a dominant force in the literary marketplace, tapping into an increasingly literate population eager for entertainment and stimulated by socially controversial material. The periodical press's ascendancy in nineteenth-century literary culture meant that many Victorians received their reading material through various literary periodicals (Phegley 105). However, periodicals were not simply materials to be digested. The public forum offered in the discursive space of the periodical press allowed literature to take part in the construction of social meanings that had a real impact on the people who consumed those texts. Because texts are one site wherein values and ideologies are asserted, I contend that women writers, by depicting heroines who crossed social boundaries, actively contributed to cultural conceptions of gender and social space. For example, M.E. Braddon's ghost stories provide a case study of the ideological rupture mat can occur within the venue of the periodical by using ghost stories to depict the home temporarily under threat. Braddon, as both an editor and a writer, was uniquely situated to make use of mat peculiar discursive power. She took advantage of the periodical's relative freedom to advance controversial ideas under the veil of sensational and supernatural fiction. The venue of the periodical offered a point of access for numerous writers offering alternative views of social relations.

10 The bulk of short stories, along with a new field of short story criticism, emerged through die vehicle of the nineteenth-century periodical press. The compressed nature of the short story meant that it could be readily incorporated into a periodical tfiat needed to fill pages. The short story became such a common and popular genre that, by die end of the century, how-to advice manuals regarding short-story writing abounded. For example, the March 21st 1896 edition of Woman's Life includes a column on "How Women May Earn a Living" as short story writers, claiming that "there never was a greater opening for short stories than at present, for magazines multiply nowadays faster than do good writers" (85). Since the short story's contemporary written form did not emerge alongside the establishment of the novel, but rather flourished through the medium of the periodical, it is this serial structure that most clearly impacted the development of the short story. My critical focus on short stories allows me to show how these hitherto neglected texts critically shaped this evolving literary and cultural territory of the Victorian and modernist period. I have organized my chapters chronologically in order to align with die historical rise in the popularity of the periodical and the emergence of the short story as a recognized genre. Building upon feminist periodical critic Margaret Beetham's approach to the Victorian woman's magazine, I adopt a case study methodology. Unlike Beetham, I shift my attention to the fictional works that abound in periodical literature ratiier than focusing solely on overdy political essays. I assess how each writer used a particular short story subgenre to address a contemporary debate regarding gender definitions by focusing on certain locations as sites of crisis. Given the sheer volume of short stories produced from 1850 to 1940, this project's focus on five middle-class women writers does not lay claim to comprehensiveness. Each of the chapters offers an examination of how particular women writers entered into ideological discourse by producing images of women disrupting social spaces. By combining feminist literary criticism and spatial theory, my

11 analysis of rhetoric about gender, social space and place re-figures the conflicts that arose over definitions of women. In the Victorian and modernist period, drastic increases in the number of unmarried women and agitation for marital rights, along with the professionalization of women, a massive population boom in newly industrialized cities, and the expansion and dissolution of the British Empire created social anxieties surrounding how people and places were categorized. Despite the fact that the 1851 Census attempted to count households by defining families as groups under the head of a master of me house, Karen Chase and Michael Levenson note that exceptions to this "much-voiced standard . . . abounded" (5). The plight of spinsters, as a result, exemplified the controversy regarding the exclusive, bourgeois definition of family. Popular investment in consolidating that familial ideal played out in print. Charles Dickens' popular periodical Household Words and his Christmas Books of the 1840s and 1850s elevated the status of the ideal home (Chase and Levenson 8). In my first chapter, "Regarding Cranford: Elizabeth Gaskell and the Readers ofHousehold Words" I consider how Elizabeth Gaskell used the venue ofHousehold Words to offer an alternative view of family centered around the spinster at die hearth in her popular 1850s series Cranford. From 1851 to 1853, the publication of die anecdotal "Cranford" series riveted the readers of Household Words. Much like letters from a friend, the stories appear at erratic intervals whenever the narrator, Mary, has "news to report" from Cranford. Victorian periodicals were often read aloud to family members. By mirroring that process, Gaskell models this reading for her audience even as she expands their conception of the familial reading community defined by periodical literature. Elizabeth Gaskell employs the discursive space created by editor Charles Dickens to transform Household Words' implicit construction - and Victorian readers' subsequent understanding — of the bourgeois family, the serial novel, and the fireside. Because Gaskell did not publish these stories as a traditional serial novel, but rather as stories in and of themselves, she created a distinctive kind of series. I argue that Gaskell's narratives

12 prevent the erasure of these single, older women by employing a regionalist short story tradition to focus on the provincial town, epitomized by friends gathered around the hearth, as a site of identity-in-difference. Gaskell thus creates a sense of community between conventional readers and her unconventional characters through shared storytelling. Over a decade later, Mary Elizabeth Braddon's ghost stories challenge her readers to be entertained by and aware of the relative instability of the domestic threshold. As activists campaigned for the rights of women by passing the Marriage and Divorce Act (1857) and drafting the Married Women's Property Bill (Schor "Gender Politics" 175), Braddon used the popular genre of the ghost story to challenge the novelistic tradition of the marriage plot that automatically results in an ideally happy home. Chapter two, "Domestic Disturbances: The Uncanny Home in M.E. Braddon's Ghost Stories," shows that in Braddon's short fiction, published in the sensational venue of Belgravia, the home is not just a bounded space, but a boundary to be crossed. Ghosts, called into being by guilt, passion, and artifice, arise as a consequence of die emotional ambivalence of Victorian wives. Even after ghosts cease to appear, the characters who witnessed such specters remain haunted. And, by extension, so are the readers. Thus, the ghost story resists the closure of the marriage plot, which conforms to established social patterns. Mary Elizabeth Braddon's ghost stories acknowledge the Active nature of the feminine ideals that depend on spatial constraints. In ghost stories that depict women haunted by their infidelities, she creates, in effect, the "uncanny"—something simultaneously familiar and strange—that materializes upon the thresholds of the home. Theorist Tzvetan Todorov notes that the fantastic is the return of the repressed. Here, the ghost is the material trace of social and spatial as well as psychological disturbances played out in the parlor, the bedroom, and other intimate locations. By directing her readers to vicariously experience the defamiliarization of the home through haunting, Braddon also unsettles die discourse that structured the Victorian reader's conception of the impermeability of the domestic

13 threshold. In these stories, readers find that, through their own psychic discomposure, they are already implicated in the un-making of home. The centrality of the middle-class Victorian family was in question, in part, because the population of me country more than trebled over the course of the century. As a consequence, the class structure and the occupational and geographical distribution of people inevitably altered (Altick 81). More women pursued financial and social independence in the rapidly expanding, increasingly populated urban spaces of the city. London absorbed major population shifts in the second half of the century. For example, between 1851 and 1901 the total number of women in the urban workforce increased from 2,832,000 to 4, 751,000 (Richardson and Willis 5). Magazines like the Yellow Book of the 1890s became a platform for New Women writers to lay claim to a vision of the capital city as a site through which multitudes of women moved. In chapter three, "Possessing London, Performing Femininity: The New Woman in the Yellow Book," I examine the ways George Egerton and Evelyn Sharp use the trope of the urban encounter to render gendered presentation a kind of masquerade that, in fin de siecle London, can create moments of social upheaval. In Egerton and Sharp's Yellow Book short stories, rebellious New Women take possession of transitory urban spaces like the omnibus, the street, and the stairwell as they co-opt the mid-Victorian figure of the male flaneur. When they traverse the city, female protagonists assume particular modes of dress, movement, and appearance in order to dictate the way in which they are read. Thus, they adopt a positive masquerade described by Mary Ann Doane in which women, aware of the male gaze, subvert it by controlling the image that they project. Synthesizing the work of feminist dieorists, urban historians, and cultural geographers, I argue that the urban cityscape blurs identities precisely because characters rely on and are thus fooled by oversimplified constructions of gender and class in their attempts to "read" those who pass through these fluid spaces. In all of these encounters, the liminality of urban space exposes the ways in which gender, for women, is always a kind of

Full document contains 214 pages
Abstract: Making Room: British Women Writers, Social Change, and the Short Story, 1850-1940 reveals how women writers participated in the contentious debates regarding women that dominated the Victorian and modernist periods. Stories written by Elizabeth Gaskell, M.E. Braddon, George Egerton, Evelyn Sharp, and Katherine Mansfield commented decisively upon contemporary anxieties in Britain and its colonies about where women could live and travel, how they could be identified, and whether they could be contained. This study's exploration of the ways in which location inflects codes of conduct offers critics a new way of considering how ideologies regarding gender roles in a growing middle-class society are constructed within spaces like the home, the city, and the frontier. Moreover, by addressing the critically neglected form of the short story within the context of periodical publications, this project participates in the recovery of an entire field of fiction that played a substantive role in the literary marketplace of the Victorian and modernist periods. By publishing their works in the rapidly expanding periodical press, these women writers inspired social change by altering the way that people viewed the world--and the women--around them. The first two chapters of this project analyze how the hearthside, the drawing room, and the threshold become sites of crisis in stories that dramatize anxieties regarding middle-class definitions of family and marital relations. The second half of the dissertation examines how massive shifts in populations affected perceptions of women in the streets, omnibuses, and stairwells of London and the terrain of the British colonies. As protagonists in these stories self-consciously perform alternate gendered identities in those unstable locations, they dismantle prevalent categories of femininity. Each of the four chapters offers a case study of the ways a particular writer used their chosen periodical venue to develop a unique form of short fiction. The chapters examine Elizabeth Gaskell's 'Cranford' series in Household Words , Mary Braddon's Belgravia ghost stories, Evelyn Sharp and George Egerton's New Woman stories in the Yellow Book , and Katherine Mansfield's contributions to the modernist magazine Rhythm .