Issue 2 (January 2020):
Resistance in the Long-Nineteenth Century
Gender and Social Resistance in Marie Corelli’s The Young Diana.
Erin Louttit (Independent Scholar)
gender, science fiction, rebellion, romance, feminism, human experimentation.
This article explores The Young Diana’s subversive depiction of social norms and the novel’s particularly complex representation, given Corelli’s conservative brand of feminism. In this novel, Corelli’s depiction of feminine disempowerment and control showcase an almost militant response to social attitudes that prize women exclusively for sexual attractiveness to men, but which consistently undervalue or despise female intellectual achievements. The eponymous heroine’s initial confinement within culturally-constructed female roles – daughter, fiancée, spinster – is overturned when, after being used as the subject of a scientific experiment, she regains her physical youth and beauty. The heroine’s allure to men of all ages becomes, in this work, an instrument of retribution and a social commentary on the standards by which women are unequally judged, arguing for greater equality – of a kind – between the sexes.
Erin Louttit is an independent scholar based in the Netherlands. Her research interests include literary faiths, gender, the supernatural, popular culture and the long nineteenth century and she has published on epic poetry, reincarnation, Buddhism, women’s education and media adaptations. She has co-edited a special issue of Neo-Victorian Studies and is co-organiser, membership secretary and social media manager of the Victorian Popular Fiction Association.
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