Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Spinning Stories in Cloth: Constructing Female Voice and Agency via Domestic Textile Production in Nineteenth Century Literature
by Asbeck, Heather Ann, M.A., Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, 2015, 64; 1591622
Abstract (Summary)

Textile production is interwoven through the pages of classic and contemporary literature alike. From Homer to Harry Potter, women (and occasionally, men) can be found spinning, weaving, knitting, and sewing, and these depictions represent an intersection between text and textile. In this thesis, I examine the ways that “women’s work” (specifically spinning, weaving, and knitting) is represented in a selection of nineteenth-century texts—focusing on how the women themselves are depicted, how the material objects they produce are portrayed, and the rhetoric that frames domestic textile production and informs the material and intellectual value of handwork. I find these domestic depictions particularly interesting, given the increasing industrialization that took place in the nineteenth century, and the conspicuous absence of industrialized production in the texts I examine. While the treatment of women and the process of textile production in each of these texts may be interesting individually, when viewed together they reveal a constellation of social and political expectations, particularly gendered performances of domestic production, and reveal a multiplicity of perspectives on what it means to produce textiles, and what purposes they serve vocationally, as a locus for voice and expression, and as a means of data storage, as well as revealing societal expectations for women in various contexts.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Johnson, Heather G.S.
Commitee: DeSpain, Jessica, Seltzer, Catherine
School: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
Department: English Language & Literature
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: MAI 54/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Germanic literature, Womens studies, British and Irish literature
Keywords: Fairy tales, Feminism, Grimm, Tennyson, Textiles
Publication Number: 1591622
ISBN: 978-1-321-83419-2
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