"This blessed plot": nationalism, heroism and domestic virtue in the novels of Jane Porter

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

In “Romanticism, Feminism, History, Historicism” (2009) Anne Mellor
identifies a continuing need for informed studies of women writers of the
Romantic period who for too long have been overlooked. The focus of this
thesis is one of those writers named by Mellor, Jane Porter (1776-1850).
By offering a close study of her novels, my aim is to demonstrate Porter’s
significance in Romantic and Victorian literary history, particularly her
role in pioneering the genre of the historical novel.
My study offers a socio-cultural and historical analysis of Porter’s four
historical novels, Thaddeus of Warsaw (1803), The Scottish Chiefs (1810),
The Pastor’s Fireside (1817) and Duke Christian of Luneburg (1824). The
significance of these novels in nineteenth-century British culture and
politics is explored through contextual readings and analyses of their
reception. Porter’s reputation and continuing influence are evidenced by
references to Porter, and her work, in the writings of her contemporaries,
and beyond.
The central argument of my work is that in Porter’s novels the concept of
‘nation’ is envisaged as an expanded domestic space. A key element of
Porter’s national-domestic vision is the importance of Christian virtue,
which is exemplified through the actions of the heroes and heroines of her
novels.
The novels are examined in chronological order of publication, showing the
development of Porter’s writing as she engaged with the changing political
and historical landscape of Britain. This period spans the outbreak of the
French Revolution, the turbulent years of the war between Britain and
France, and the succession to the British throne by the German
Hanoverian dynasty.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2009

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