Halliwell, David (2014) ‘Nothing against good morals and correct taste’: Subversion, containment and the masculine boundaries of Victorian sensation fiction. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The thesis explores the boundaries of sensation fiction with particular emphasis on masculine discourse as evidenced in these and their performance of ideological work. In its contemporary emphasis on the 1860s the study focuses on sensation novels in their initial published form as serials in family magazines and masculine discourse in paratexts surrounding instalments. Although masculinity is only one perspective in magazines there is sufficient cumulative evidence of a strong masculinist orientation in editorial selection of paratexts which I argue may affect the reading of instalments of sensation fiction. Critical reviews of these novels, the cultural anxieties and ideological fears they provoked are discussed in the following chapter. These critical reviews were a persistent feature of the periodical press and this is worth mentioning because they form a powerful, reactionary and persuasive viewpoint in the masculine boundaries of sensation fiction. Turning to modern criticism the thesis examines the neglect and omission of Edmund Yates, a sensation author who was very much part of the mid-nineteenth century literary scene. Through its emphasis on masculinities the thesis attempts to offer critical insights into the vexed and contentious question of how far sensation fiction is subversive and how far it is successfully and deliberately contained. In its assessment of Edmund Yates the study attempts to show that narrative structures which seem to support the containment of subversive trends in sensation fiction can be used to support dissident readings of a modern canon of sensation.

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