Victorian Autobiography Criticism: Autobiography And Class - Essay

Julia Swindells (essay date 1985)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Swindells, Julia. “Women's Issues.” In Victorian Writing and Working Women: The Other Side of Silence, pp. 137-61. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985.

[In the following excerpt from her book-length study of Victorian working women's writing, Swindells explores the various literary modes adapted by nineteenth-century women autobiographers (from romance and melodrama to religious discourse), and describes these writers' interest in the advancement of women's rights through their literary pursuits.]

I have been placing the emphasis, in writing about working women autobiographers, on an experience which, though it has its individualistic and...

(The entire section is 9173 words.)

Regenia Gagnier (essay date 1989)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gagnier, Regenia. “The Literary Standard, Working-Class Lifewriting, and Gender.” Textual Practice 3, no. 1 (1989): 36-55.

[In the following essay, Gagnier evaluates the extent to which nineteenth-century working-class writers of autobiography adopted bourgeois gender ideology in their works.]

A decade ago in ‘Working/Women/Writing’ Lillian S. Robinson asked that criticism, especially feminist criticism, not accept the doctrines of individualist aesthetics uncritically:

It is a fundamental precept of bourgeois aesthetics that good art … is art that celebrates what is unique and even eccentric in human experience or...

(The entire section is 9281 words.)

Nan Hackett (essay date summer 1989)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hackett, Nan. “A Different Form of ‘Self’: Narrative Style in British Nineteenth-Century Working-class Autobiography.” Biography 12, no. 3 (summer 1989): 208-26.

[In the following essay, Hackett emphasizes the didactic and socially critical functions of narrative in British working-class autobiography of the nineteenth century.]

Francis Russell Hart noted that “Memoir is the autobiography of survival,”1 yet working-class autobiographers' techniques of survival have caused their works to be ignored as literary works; they have been left to historians for use as documents of social history. John Burnett and David Vincent2, singly...

(The entire section is 7520 words.)