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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Negotiations of size and scale in the nineteenth-century British novel
by Voyles, Katherine Hardman, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine, 2010, 175; 3419912
Abstract (Summary)

I argue that critical attention to issues of scale highlights relationships among subjects and objects in Victorian novels to which we have not been fully attentive. I single out the Victorian novel because it has been described as a form that naturalizes and stabilizes relationships among subjects and objects, but I argue that issues of scale show that the Victorian novel does not make use of single, naturalizing perspective.

In a first chapter on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I show how Austen modifies contemporary debates about the aesthetics of the portrait miniature to argue that condensed forms of representation enjoy all the virtues of both realist and idealist art. In my second chapter, “Telescopic Effects in Persuasion and Two on a Tower,” I call attention to the epistemological and aesthetic ramifications of the telescope, which unsettles intuitive conceptions of scale as the “far” is brought “near.” Austen’s final novel imagines that an aesthetic of magnification is compatible with one of miniaturization, though Thomas Hardy’s little-studied novel takes a more pessimistic view as it represents human and astronomical scales as irreconcilable. In chapter three, “Lewis Carroll’s Theory of Relativity,” I show that as a mathematician who was interested in symbolic logic, Carroll thought in terms of relationships and relationality itself rather than essences. In “Trollope Through the Window-Pane,” I maintain that although Anthony Trollope relies on the scrupulous management of distance to achieve a realistic aesthetic, he worries that orienting the relationships among subjects and objects from any particular point of view arbitrarily provides the grounds for those relationships. In my last chapter, I argue that late-century detective fiction comments on issues of scale and perspective in a self-conscious manner: the detective moves between a close-up view and a more distanced view as he examines clues in minute detail to draw inferences from them.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Henderson, Andrea
Commitee: Bartlett, Jami, Lewis, Jayne, Tucker, Irene
School: University of California, Irvine
Department: English - Ph.D.
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 71/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Modern literature, British and Irish literature
Keywords: Austen, Jane, British literature, Nineteenth century literature, Novel
Publication Number: 3419912
ISBN: 978-1-124-20299-0
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