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Vandeplas, Jasmin (July 2020): Neo-Victorian (Women) Writers. Bachelor, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to explore this argument. In this paper I will focus on feminist interpretations of the neo-Victorian mode of contemporary historical fiction, as written by female authors. First, I will therefore give an overview of what neo-Victorianism in literature is and explore reasons and explanations for why the return to the Victorian period in modern-day fiction is frequent and how its cultural relevance and this ‘return to the past’ can (re-)shape the definition of self. Second, I will focus on the conditions under which the 19th century re-appears in and continues to inform our globalized present through female-written literature. Feminist theories will be included in the discussion to understand why neo-Victorian historical fiction is an important medium for female writers to project a critique of bygone times into the present. This will entail a detailed analysis of Belinda Starling’s 2006 novel The Journal of Dora Damage, touching on and drawing comparisons to other works. I will furthermore explore how Starling contrasts a young Victorian heroine – who is submerged in the time’s restrictive gender roles and strict sexual codes – with Victorian pornography and sexuality. Lastly, I will discuss how this, in turn, can be interpreted as a drive for self-knowledge and an even parodic attempt to shape the future by returning to the past – or if such an ambitious approach is even possible.