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mercredi 1 avril 2015 / Catégories: Langues, Anglais

“Are You Watching Closely?” The Representation of the Spectacular in Neo-Victorian Literature.

Anne-Marie Dentzer

In my thesis I discuss three major aspects which all centre around the spectacle, thus the circus and music halls. In the first part I analyse the novels in the light of postmodern criticism, such as the ontological other and historical metafiction. The second part deals with the role of the circus, as well as the music halls, thus more specifically with the aesthetic and ideological aspect in these novels. The different institutions have specific functions and enable the different characters to assume roles, which would have been impossible in Victorian times. The specific novels offer different kinds of performances, ranging from traditional to grotesque to spiritual ones. The circus and music hall offer some sort of escape to the protagonists, helping them to flee the real world and live their true identities. By deceiving the audience as well as the reader, they manage to create an illusion by using magic or costumes, which enables them to achieve their goals. In my thesis I analyse the concept of gender and how it can be subverted for different purposes, mainly through entertainment and deception. Talking of cross-dressing and performance, another vital concept of the thesis, is Bakhtin’s notion of the carnivalesque. In the third part I discuss the ethical and ideological aspect of these novels and discuss how contemporary writers give outcasts and freaks a voice. This argument is rounded off by analyzing whether or not these novels have an ethical purpose or if they are merely opportunistic. The genre clearly moves away from the Victorian tradition, as it addresses themes or taboos, if you will, such as homosexuality or crossdressing, which were nearly non-existent in Victorian literature.

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