student profile: Ms Philippa Janu


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Thesis work

Thesis title: The Place of the Governess in the Nineteenth-Century Bildungsroman

Supervisors: Matthew SUSSMAN , Vanessa SMITH

Thesis abstract:

In its exploration of the governess, this study will locate new ways of describing and understanding the complexities of the figure as it is represented in the nineteenth-century Bildungsroman. Engaging in close analysis of novels written throughout the nineteenth century by Jane Austen, Anne Brontë, Charlotte Brontë, William Makepeace Thackeray, George Eliot, Ellen Wood and Henry James will facilitate a consideration of the literary figure of the governess that moves beyond the discussions of her ambivalent and indeterminate status that dominate the critical literature to date. By addressing the place of the governess in the Bildungsroman, I will consider the significance of narratives of growth, development and formation in understanding governesses both as nineteenth-century women and as educators, primarily the educators of young women. Not only will new insights be provided into the ways that middle-class women were represented in nineteenth-century literature, but I will also consider how these representations affected the shape of the novel itself.

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