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Domestic narratives in the transatlantic community: Elizabeth Gaskell and Louisa May Alcott

By Louisa Jayne Charlotte Hodgson


My thesis investigates the processes of reciprocal, transatlantic literary exchange between Britain and the United States in the nineteenth century. While these specific transnational relations have received much critical attention in recent years, I extend current theoretical frameworks by focusing on how women‘s domestic fiction operates as a currency for literal and ideological interchanges between Britain and the United States.\ud \ud Concentrating primarily upon Elizabeth Gaskell‘s and Louisa May Alcott‘s fictions, I trace how they operate as 'transatlantic domestic narratives‘. I use this term to refer to the mobility of their material texts as they circulate within a transatlantic community, and also to articulate the generic narrative tropes on which their domestic fictions rely. I explore, therefore, how the rhetoric of domesticity – as transmitted through the transatlantic domestic narrative – becomes a shared medium through which specific localised concerns can be articulated and circulated within a transatlantic arena.\ud \ud Focusing on four domestic tropes which were common on both sides of the Atlantic – home, the worker, the nurse, and the witch – I illustrate how both Gaskell and Alcott mobilise these four narrative structures in order to contribute to local and transnational debates in which national, literary and gendered identities are created and contested. Both authors‘ fictions, I demonstrate, exemplify, and have a significant impact upon, a transatlantic literary marketplace

Publisher: School of English (Leeds)
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:1428

Suggested articles



  1. (2005). It all began with Jane Eyre: The Complex Transatlantic Web of Women Writers‘,
  2. (1966). Making the America of Art: Cultural Nationalism and Nineteenth-century 239 Women Writers (Ohio: Ohio State
  3. Primary Sources [Anonymous], ‗Review of Little Women‟, The Galaxy,
  4. (1997). War Hospital Sketches [1863], in Alternative Alcott,
  5. (2001). What is the History of Books‘, in The Book History Reader,

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