Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"Lydia Bennet's Secret Stockings": Material Literary Narratives in Contemporary Culture
by Heffner, Brenna K., Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2014, 143; 3622937
Abstract (Summary)

By considering the link between knitting and storytelling, I analyze the ways in which tradition, history, and conceptions of the literary influence knitters' identities in their face-to-face and imagined communities as coded into their knitted garments. History and tradition are not static entities in the context of contemporary knitters; instead, knitters engage in traditionalization, or the constant negotiation of traditions claimed by knitters that argue that this in the way in which we have always knit, and historicization, or the claim that “we are a part of this history.” These rhetorical moves allow knitters to feel connected as an imagined community through space and time. I consider the ways in which the processes of traditionalization and historicization play a role in contemporary knitting culture through knitting magazines such as Piecework and Knitting Traditions while elucidating how knitters use both group and individual aesthetics to code elements of their identity into garments. I then turn to the idea of the reception of Jane Austen's novels by amateur readers and knitters. If reception is defined as any action inspired by one's reading, then the process of knitting garments presented in the knitting magazine Jane Austen Knits constitutes a form of reception. I argue that this process is a form of material storytelling, or a way of responding to Jane Austen's texts through amateur reading practices including internalization, reading like a woman, and authentic realism. Together with the practices of fandom, such as poaching, knitters who engage in knitting Jane Austen blend their individual identity and their own experiences with conceptions of Austen and her characters through mobilizing nostalgia and imagined experience. Furthermore, the production of knitted garments from Jane Austen Knits comprise a form of coded discourse readable only by those who also can read the language of knitted garments and Jane Austen Knits.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Laudun, John
Commitee: Devine, Christine, Ingram, Shelley
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 75/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Folklore, British and Irish literature
Keywords: Austen, Jane, Fandom, Knitting, Reception
Publication Number: 3622937
ISBN: 978-1-303-95099-5
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