Date of Award

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

English

Committee Member

Dr. David Coombs

Committee Member

Dr. Erin Goss

Committee Member

Dr. Kimberly Manganelli

Abstract

Majority of Amy Levy's scholarship is predominantly focused on her Jewish identity and its relationship to her novel Ruben Sachs. Importantly, very little scholarship has been done on her novel The Romance of a Shop. Both Elizabeth Evans and Michael Kramp have discussed Levy's desire to create a place for professional women in the urban landscape. However, neither of these scholars have critically analyzed the New Woman and its connection to photography and painting, only briefly glancing at Lady Watergate's Post-mortem photograph. By ignoring this scene and the New Woman's connection to photography, they have missed the opportunity to see how Levy is able to create a voice for the New Woman. I argue that in The Romance of a Shop, the relationship between photography and the New Woman becomes apparent by analyzing Darrell's painting of Phyllis and Gertrude's photographing of the deceased Lady Watergate and their different representations of female nature. These scenes show that the confrontation between painting and photography is due to the fact there is no specific artist in photography, whereas in painting there is a prevalent masculine artist's agency. Notably, the artist's imagination is constructed by the patriarchal archetypes of the Angel of the House and the Beloved. Crucially, Levy refused to allow her female characters to be these archetypes and eliminates the artist's agency over the female image through mechanical objectivity. When Gertrude photographs Lady Watergate, Gertrude becomes an image maker and ceases to be an archetype. She documents Watergate's realistic decaying state and through this process the ideal classification of the Beloved is destroyed, which permits the spectator to see past the ideal female figure and see their own mortality. Levy eliminates the patriarchal archetypes of the Beloved and the Angel of the House. Ultimately, through Gertrude's position as a photographer, Levy offers a new female position, which allows the New Woman to escape archetypal placement and enter the narrative of the image maker. When the New Woman becomes a photographer, she escapes the patriarchal gaze and ceases to be a distilled archetype.

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