|Institution:||State University of New York at Stony Brook|
|Keywords:||European history; English literature|
|Full text PDF:||http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/#viewpdf?dispub=10133413|
This dissertation discusses how Victorian writers, artists, and critics represent historical queens as shadows of Queen Victoria throughout her long reign (1837–1901). Focusing on Victorian representations of four queens—Catherine de Medici, Mary Stuart, Queen Elizabeth I, and Marie-Antoinette—this project seeks to establish a literary genealogy by showing how British writers drew upon historical interpretations of dead French and English queens to express psychological ambivalence, political anxiety about female monarchy, national, confessional difference, and complex sexual and erotic dimensions. Rather than approach these queens as historical persons, this dissertation concentrates on the literary, figural, and spectral qualities that translate unevenly across cultural, religious and historical lines. The dissertation uses interdisciplinary methods drawn from history, psychoanalysis, and feminism to examine how Victorian writers relate their representational strategies to novels, dramas, visual texts, and historiographies in which the queens are sources of sensation, fascination, English moral exceptionalism, and spectacle. The mix of canonical and non-canonical writers recasts the familiar images of these queens in a new light and brings unfamiliar and long forgotten writers into the discussion. In examining how these cultural texts work against the grain of more canonical texts, the dissertation shows how they have the potential to unsettle what it is thought is known about Victorian attitudes toward female monarchy. Finally, I argue that it matters that Queen Victoria is on the throne because she casts her shadow over these cultural texts while they are being produced and consumed.