Forms of the Chronotope in Fin-de-Siècle British Women’s Poetry

  • Julie Casanova

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis uses Bakhtin’s theory of the chronotope to analyse the ways in which women’s poems at the fin-de-siècle are informed by particular gendered worldviews, often at odds with those of their male counterparts. It capitalises on the double nature of the chronotope as a literary/generic and cognitive tool to map the reactions of women poets to the wider cultural, ideological and literary contexts within which they were operating. Conceptually, this thesis regards fin-de-siècle women’s poems as nexuses of time-space interactions, which typify the writers’ multiple approaches to cultural domination, hegemonic power structures and contemporary debates, as well as their conceptualisation of the New Woman poet and/or motif. Chapters 1 and 2 explore the poetry of Rosamund Marriott Watson and May Kendall and study the chronotopic logics inherent to each poem/collection as a way of shedding light on these women poets’ engagements with masculine tradition. It posits timespace clashes between male-dominated chronotopes (science, progress, property, kingdoms, etc.) and disruptive chronotopes of the feminine as a structuring element of their poems. Chapter 3 widens the scope of its chronotopic analyses and studies finde-siècle women’s poetry at a cross-authorial level to highlight common time-space patterns and worldviews. This section explores the poems of a range of writers such as Amy Levy, Mathilde Blind, A. Mary. F. Robinson, Michael Field, Katharine de Mattos, Mary Elizabeth Coleridge and Dollie Radford, among others, through the prism of various motifs or local chronotopes, including the urban labyrinth, the moon, and the cigarette. The final chapter celebrates the diversity of women poets’ responses to essentialist masculine tradition and the ways in which they promote a movement away from patrilineal towards women-centred chronotopic structures. It shows how the matriarchal, women-only and/or homoerotic time-spaces that they open up typify their conceptions of New Women’s poetry and creation of their own mythos.
Date of Award31 Dec 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMichael Sanders (Supervisor) & Clara Dawson (Supervisor)

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