Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. David Coombs, Committee Chair
Dr. Erin Goss
Dr. Megan Eatman
This paper seeks to explore connections between the sensation fiction genre of the 1860s and theatricality. The theatricality present in sensation fiction plays on the fears of acting and insincerity that Nina Auerbach outlines in her book Private Theatricals: The Lives of the Victorians. Theatricality differs from performance or performativity, areas abundant with scholarship, in that it describes a person’s ability to perform, not elements of an individual performance. In this thesis, I analyze characters within sensation fiction who utilize their theatricality in order to mask their sincere identities or interior self, or portions of their identities in some cases. Specifically, I look at Lady Audley, Robert Audley, and Clara Tabloys from Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret, Magdalen Vanstone from Wilkie Collins’s No Name, and Isabel Vane and Francis Levison from Ellen Wood’s East Lynne.
Robertson, Carley Amanda, "Transgressive Theatricalities: Questioning the Existence of a Sincere Self in Sensation Fiction" (2018). All Theses. 2877.