Peril and Protection in British Courtship Novels: A Study in Continuity and Change explores the use and context of danger/safety language in British courtship novels published between 1719 and 1920. The term "courtship novel" encompasses works focusing on both female and male protagonists’ journeys toward marriage, as well as those reflecting the intertwined nature of comic courtship and tragic seduction scenarios. Through careful tracking of peril and protection terms and imagery within the works of widely-read, influential authors, Professor Chavis provides a fresh view of the complex ways that the British novel has both maintained the status quo and embodied cultural change. Lucid discussions of each novel, arranged in chronological order, shed new light on major characters’ preoccupations, values, internal struggles, and inter-actional styles and demonstrate the ways in which gender ideology and social norms governing male-female relationships were not only perpetuated but also challenged and satirized during the course of the British novel’s development. Blending close textual analysis with historical/cultural and feminist criticism, this multi-faceted study invites readers to look with both a microscopic lens at the nuances of figurative and literal language and a telescopic lens at the ways in which modifications to views of masculinity and femininity and interactions within the courtship arena inform the novel genre’s evolution.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Danger, Protection, and Gender Ideology in Courtship Novels
Establishing the Traditional Courtship Novel in the Eighteenth Century: Haywood, Richardson, & Burney
Intensifying Tradition: Gothic Courtship Novels of Walpole and Radcliffe
Enriching and Mocking Tradition: Ironic Variations in Austen’s Courtship Novels
Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines: Victorian Challenges and Adherence to Tradition
Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures: Modernist Deconstructions of Courtship Novel Danger in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century
Reflections on Continuity, Change, and Contemporary Trends in Courtship Fiction
Geri Giebel Chavis received an M.A. and Ph.D. from Syracuse University with specialties in British Romanticism, the Victorian Period, and American Literature from 1840-1920. Her dissertation focuses on dreams as motif in John Keats’ poems and letters. Dr. Chavis currently is a Professor Emerita at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. She has received numerous teaching and achievement awards and has published many articles, book chapters, and three books, the most recent entitled Poetry and Story Therapy: The Healing Power of Poetic Expression. Dr. Chavis is also a certified poetry therapist and licensed psychologist with a masters in counseling psychology.