1st Edition

Masculinity and the English Working Class Studies in Victorian Autobiography and Fiction

By Ying Lee Copyright 2007
    264 Pages
    by Routledge

    264 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book examines representations of working-class masculine subjectivity in Victorian autobiography and fiction. In it, Ying focuses on ideas of domesticity and the male body and demonstrates that working-class masculinities differ substantially from those of the widely studied upper classes.

    The book also maps the relationship between two trends: the early nineteenth-century efflorescence of published working-class autobiographies (in which working men construct their identities for a broad readership); and a contemporaneous surge of public interest in "the lower orders" that finds reflection in the depiction of working-class characters in popular novels by middle-class authors.

    The book mimics this point of convergence by pairing three working-class autobiographies with three middle-class novels. Each chapter focuses on a particular type of work: domestic service, manual (not artisanal) labour, and literary labour (and the opportunities it offers for social advancement). Ying considers the specific ways in which classed and gendered consciousness emerges autobiographically and its significance in the writing of working-class subjectivity for public consumption. Then mainstream novels by Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell and Charles Kingsley are re-read from the perspective of these autobiographical pressure points.

    List of Illustrations Permissions Acknowledgments Chapter One: Introduction: Gender and Genre Chapter Two: In Gentleman’s Service: Diary of William Tayler, Footman, 1837 and The Pickwick Papers Chapter Three: Representing the Working Man: The Autobiography of a Working Man and Mary Barton Chapter Four: Autodidacts and Men of Letters: My Story and Alton Locke Chapter Five: Other Others: Incidents in a Gipsy’s Life Notes Bibliography Index


    Ying S. Lee

    "Ying S. Lee's Masculinity and the English Working Class exhibits the best attributes of a succesfully revised dissertation; a smart theoretical position, an innovative tweak of methodology, and an informed, up-to-date argument."--Victorian Studies, Summer 2009