Date of Award

5-2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

English

Advisor

Manganelli, Kimberly

Committee Member

Bushnell , Cameron

Committee Member

Naimou , Angela

Abstract

This thesis investigates nineteenth-century Australia as a frequently disregarded site of colonial discourse where men and women were able to create wealth but unable to transform economic gains into social currency upon return to England and irrevocably weakened English patriarchal authority when they attempted to do so. Unlike many of the other British colonies such as India and Africa, due to its demographics the Australian colonies by and large remained absent from nineteenth-century racial violence, thus allowing greater possibilities for economic advancement and social rehabilitation of disenfranchised English populations. By combining travel narratives with the sensation fiction of Mary Elizabeth Braddon's Lady Audley's Secret (1861), the sensational realism of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations (1861), and the realism of Anthony Trollope's John Caldigate (1879), this thesis examines both the real and imagined influence that the Australian colonies had on the breakdown of patriarchal power in late nineteenth-century England and the subversion of traditional economic and social structures that life in the homeland was based upon.
By examining disparate nineteenth-century works, this thesis explores the role that literary genre played in the nineteenth century portrayal of Australia in order to build a better understanding of how English sensation novels reflected, and perhaps in some cases provoked, Victorian imperial fears. While much remains to be done in terms of recovering the aboriginal voices of Australia's native people and the creation of an Australian literary cannon, by studying English perspectives of the colonies and their people, we open up the discussion of Australian colonization and begin to understand the impact that colony had upon the homeland in order to then investigate the impact that homeland had upon the colony.

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