Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Member

Dr. David Coombs, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Erin Goss

Committee Member

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.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.