Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2018

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/03/2020

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Boos, Florence S

First Committee Member

Creekmur, Corey

Second Committee Member

Thaggert, Miriam

Third Committee Member

Landon, Brooks

Fourth Committee Member

Mangum, Teresa


Neo-Victorian studies is a burgeoning subfield which seeks to examine contemporary representations of the Victorian period. For the last decade, neo-Victorian scholars have offered up definitions of what makes a text “neo-Victorian”; often, this has been via a description of what the neo-Victorian is not. The ‘ruling’ definition—i.e., the definition most consistently repeated—hails from the introduction to Neo-Victorianism: The Victorians in the Twenty-First Century by Ann Heilmann and Mark Llewellyn: “the Neo-Victorian is more than historical fiction set in the nineteenth century. […] texts (literary, filmic, audio/visual) must in some respect be self-consciously engaged with the act of (re)interpretation, (re)discovery and (re)vision concerning the Victorians” (4). This short delineation significantly comes at the expense of historical fiction, which is a move repeated throughout neo-Victorian efforts to define itself. Neo-Victorian studies has largely concerned itself with literary novels, operating with a heavy anxiety that ‘other’ fiction set in the nineteenth century is escapist and nostalgic in the sense that it simply perpetuates problematic past systems of oppression while evoking the fashionable aesthetic trappings of the Victorian. My dissertation argues that contemporary genre fiction, long derided as ‘simply’ escapist in nature, can also be neo-Victorian. In each of my chapters I analyze texts from a specific genre—steampunk, popular romance, detective fiction, and Sherlock Holmes pastiche—in order to offer a basis for investigating genre fiction with a neo-Victorian lens. I analyze the depiction of corsets and feminist protagonists in three steampunk novels, explore the exhibition of unlikely romantic heroines and Romany romantic heroes in Lisa Kleypas’ historical romance series about the Hathaway family, examine representations of class and gender as well as germane social issues in Anne Perry’s William Monk detective series, and highlight the feminist potential of Carole Nelson Douglas’ series of Sherlock Holmes pastiche featuring Irene Adler. Each chapter considers the Victorian period as represented alongside Victorian novels and literary periodicals in order to demonstrate the shape of these neo-Victorian revisions and make the case the genre fiction can be self-conscious despite its lack of metafictional content.


detective fiction, historical romance, neo-victorian, Sherlock Holmes pastiche, steampunk


vii, 243 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 225-243).


Copyright © 2018 Lauren N. Rosales

Available for download on Friday, July 03, 2020