Armstrong, Nancy, and Leonard Tennenhouse, eds. The Ideology of Conduct: essays on literature and the history of sexuality. New York: Methuen, 1987.

This collection of essays explores the issues of sexual behaviour, and women's roles in literature. A good introduction to recent scholarship in this area.

Gallagher, Catherine, and Thomas Laquer, eds. The Making of the Modern Body; sexuality and society in the Nineteenth Century. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.

Another collection of essays examining Victorian women in light of recent cultural criticism and semiotic approach. Focuses on sexuality within the context of a study of historical and societal paradigms.

Dickens Studies Annual, 15(1986).

This critical edition contains five individual essays on Great Expectations. To be particularly noted is Flavia Ayala's survey of feminist writing on the Victorians in the fifteen years preceding 1986. Patrick J. McCarthy writes that Ayala reviews the "place, aims, multiplicity, purposes, joys, and self-questioning of the several feminisms that have emerged in the period." (Victorian Studies, 31(1988/89): 453). An interesting survey of feminist thought to explore while considering this topic.

Peterson, M. Jeanne. Family, Love, and Work in the Lives of Victorian Gentlewomen. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989.

Peterson's focal point is that there was far greater variety in the lives of Victorian gentlewomen than has been presumed by previous scholars. She uses the paradigms of a few specific examples of upper-middle-class women and their families. One of the most interesting conclusions she reaches is that marriage has been deteriorating since the nineteenth century, and she presents a positive picture of the relationship between husband and wife. Peterson's analysis extends beyond the generalizations frequently prevalent in discussion of the Victorians, and she challenges the stereotype of the weak, passive Victorian woman.

Poovey, Mary. Uneven Developments: the Ideological Work of Gender in mid-Victorian England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

In this book Poovey (one of the most prominent critics in recent feminist Victorian criticism) discusses sex roles, divorce, and women's societal roles in Victorian England.

Shires, Linda M. ed. Rewriting the Victorians: Theory, History and the Politics of Gender. London and New York: Routledge, 1992.

The central issue of this collection of essays is the distribution of social power through various forms of cultural representation, most especially the rising professional middle class and the male/female power dynamic. The essays present details, correctives, and critical applications.

Warhol, Robyn R. Gendered Interventions: Narrative Discourse in the Victorian Novel. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990.

Warhol believes it is time to unite the formalism of discourse on narrative to feminist-context criticism. She sets up, and demonstrates, the gendered narrative. Dickens, interestingly, is the example of "cross-dressing": in Bleak House he "borrowed" the women's technique of earnest direct address in the episode of Jo's death. Related to the topic only as a thought provoking piece before addressing Great Expectations.

Related Material


Vict. Dickens Great bibliography

Last modified 6 November 2009