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“Smash the social machine”: Neo-Victorianism and postfeminism in Emma Donoghue’s The Sealed Letter

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journal contribution
posted on 27.07.2018, 08:47 by Claire O'CallaghanClaire O'Callaghan
This article reads Emma Donoghue’s neo-Victorian novel The Sealed Letter (2008) as a postfeminist text that demonstrates the complex ways in which feminist concerns of the nineteenth century persist in the twenty-first-century present. I argue that Donoghue’s reimagining of the Codrington trial from 1864 offers a reflexive postfeminist critique of the way in which female gender and sexual norms are culturally produced and maintained. In doing so, I propose that The Sealed Letter exemplifies the means through which Victorian ideas of women, gender, and sexuality prevail, while Donoghue’s rewriting of the case draws important parallels with instances of sexism and misogyny in contemporary culture. In reworking the Codrington affair, the novel illustrates long-standing feminist concerns such the sexual double standard and homophobia that are the renewed subject of postfeminist criticism in the new millennium

History

School

  • The Arts, English and Drama

Department

  • English and Drama

Published in

Neo-Victorian Studies

Volume

6

Issue

2

Pages

64 - 88

Citation

O'CALLAGHAN, C., 2013. “Smash the social machine”: Neo-Victorianism and postfeminism in Emma Donoghue’s The Sealed Letter. Neo-Victorian Studies, 6(2), pp. 64-88.

Publisher

© The Authors. Published by Swansea University

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Acceptance date

01/01/2013

Publication date

2013

Notes

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Swansea University under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

ISSN

1757-9481

Language

en