The monstrous environment: challenging British nineteenth-century urban and rural dichotomies

Phillips, Eilis (2015) The monstrous environment: challenging British nineteenth-century urban and rural dichotomies. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Utilising a conceptual framework created for this assignment, this dissertation argues that both elite and popular nineteenth-century authors’ depictions of environments as monstrous significantly undermine urban/rural spatial dichotomies. The conceptual framework proposed here, under the umbrella heading of ‘the monstrous environment’ encompasses three distinct patterns: the religious, the malevolent, and the insidious, and through analysis of a wide variety of primary source material reveals that the insidious pattern grows more dominant as the century progresses, and potentially spawns the malevolent pattern, just as the religious pattern appears to wane. These findings align with the century’s secularising trends, and offer an innovative and nuanced understanding of how authors from different social groups felt similarly threatened by increased industrialisation and urbanisation.

    After detailing the three monstrous patterns in its introduction, this dissertation will then set-up its theoretical basis by critiquing a range of historiographical and interdisciplinary approaches from Monster Studies, EcoGothic and Spatial History. In Chapter Two, spatial infiltrations of urban/rural dichotomies will be shown, as monstrous associations of the sea and coastlines, weather phenomena, and gibbet sites are scrutinised for their ability to break-down spatial dichotomies. In Chapter Three a narrative deconstruction will be explored, showing how changeling legends were not just to be found in traditionally rural areas, but can be seen to migrate and evolve, appearing in urban spaces where their allegorical portrayal of warped, uncanny humanity aligns with urban tales of soulless workers as degenerate beasts of burden.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social, Historical and Literary Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2015 08:46
    Last Modified: 11 Jun 2015 11:53

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