Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Boos, Florence

First Committee Member

Stewart, Garrett

Second Committee Member

Emery, Mary Lou

Third Committee Member

Hamilton, David

Fourth Committee Member

Depew, David


This dissertation analyzes interruptions of realist narrative in the work of four women writers from the mid-nineteenth through mid-twentieth centuries: Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Olive Schreiner, and Virginia Woolf. I argue that these writers use such interruptions—which take the form of alternate genres such as lyric poetry and the expository essay—to subvert the authority of the third-person novelistic narrator and thus question the dominant structure of the realist novel. By employing these asides, they provide opportunities for first-person and present-tense discourse within a third-person, past-tense narrative, which in turn leads to productive contrasts between subjectivity and objectivity, emotion and thought, public and private spheres, inner and outer lives of characters, and the novel and other genres. These cross-genre interruptions destabilize the overall works in ways that reveal both the contradictions in female characters’ lives and the anxieties surrounding being a female author. The practice also exposes limitations of the novel as a form by raising in the reader an awareness of genre conventions. The result is an anti-realist tendency, inspired and fueled by gender concerns, in the midst of the age of greatest dominance of the realist novel.


viii, 171 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 166-171).


Copyright 2010 Lynne S. Nugent