The myth of the Victorian family remains a pervasive influence within a contemporary Britain that perceives itself to be in social crisis. Nostalgic for a golden age of "Victorian values" in which visions of supportive, united families predominate, the common consciousness, exhorted by social and political discourse, continues to vaunt the "traditional, natural" family as the template by which all other family forms are gauged. Yet this fantasy of family, nurtured and augmented throughout the Victorian era, was essentially a construct that belied the realities of a nineteenth-century world in which orphanhood, fostering, and stepfamilies were endemic.
Focusing primarily on British children's texts written by women and drawing extensively on socio-historic material, The Fantasy of Family considers the paradoxes implicit to the perpetuation of the domestic ideal within the Victorian era and offers new perspectives on both nineteenth-century and contemporary society.
Table of Contents
Redefining the Past
Snatched From "The Seed-plot" of Degeneracy: The "rescue" of the destitute child in tales of street arab life
Forever Cursed: Stepmothers, "otherness" and the reinscription of myth in transnormative family narratives
"Uncles are one thing…[but] aunts are always nasty!": Relational failures and the discourse of gender bias in foster family stories
Mother, Ally, Friend – or Foe? : The "dependable" female author as one of the family
Into the Future: The enduring potency of the nineteenth-century domestic ideal
LIST OF WORKS CITED
Liz Thiel is a lecturer in Children's Literature at Roehampton University. A former journalist, her research interests lie in both historical and contemporary texts for children. Forthcoming publications include a study of the life and works of Victorian writer 'Brenda'.
'Each of Thiel's analyses are thought-provoking and incisive... The Fantasy of Family is an important and original contribution to the field, as lucidly written as it is admirably researched.' - Bjorn Sundmark, IRSCL