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Reimagining the Brontës: (post)feminist middlebrow adaptations and representations of feminine creative genius, 1996-2011

Han, Catherine Paula 2015. Reimagining the Brontës: (post)feminist middlebrow adaptations and representations of feminine creative genius, 1996-2011. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Investigating conceptualisations of the feminine creative imagination, this thesis examines representations of the Brontës and adaptations of their novels released between 1996 and 2011. I focus on portrayals of Charlotte and Anne Brontë alongside reworkings of Jane Eyre (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) in various media. Contributing to existing research on the cultural afterlives of the Brontës and their novels, I position the works discussed within contemporary middlebrow culture whilst considering the influence of feminism. The Introduction discusses the gendering of creative genius before identifying the tensions between critical, middlebrow and popular discourses’ conceptualisations of the Brontës’ imaginations. Thereafter, the first chapter proposes the contemporary usefulness and considers the gendering of the concept of the middlebrow. I demonstrate that middlebrow culture is fascinated by the Brontës’ lives, art and feminine creative imaginations. To further this argument, the second chapter analyses neo-Victorian novels’ engagement with Charlotte Brontë’s life, art and creativity. I illustrate that these works draw from second-wave feminist criticism on Jane Eyre and belong to a tradition of middlebrow feminine writing about the Brontës. The third chapter also examines representations of feminine creativity and discusses how screen adaptations portray the artistry of Jane Eyre’s heroine. Additionally, the legacies of second-wave feminism in a wider postfeminist cultural context are explored. In the fourth chapter, the thesis turns to analyse the cultural dissemination and reputations of Anne Brontë and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I delineate how middlebrow culture has rediscovered the youngest Brontë, her novel and her feminism. Ultimately, this thesis suggests that the works examined indicate middlebrow culture’s efforts to engage with feminism through the feminine creative imagination. Yet these works expose a prevailing tension in feminism between the status of the individual and the collective.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 16:41

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