Defining moments : a cultural biography of Jane Eyre
Sammanfattning: This thesis examines the ways in which various practices, such as novel-writing, publishing, book-reviewing, reading for pleasure, adaptation and studying English literature, have produced Jane Eyre’s complex cultural profile. The organizing principle of the study is Paul du Gay, Stuart Hall et al’s ‘circuit of culture’, which identifies five key processes or ‘moments’ as being productive of the meanings that a cultural artefact or text comes to possess. Explaining the meanings which have been attached to Jane Eyre partly involves trying to understand why it has been perceived and described dichotomously. For example, it has been thought of as trivial and serious, radical and conservative, feminine and unfeminine. The investigation begins with the writing process, exploring how and why Charlotte Brontë embedded the text with specific hybrid features. The study then traces how these textual features have acquired meaning in different discourses, focusing primarily on the novel’s reception in Britain in the mid-nineteenth century and in the 1990s. The thesis points to the role played by distinct target-audiences in configurations of Jane Eyre; Charlotte Brontë, publishers, biographers, literary critics, film-makers and teachers have all had specific audiences in mind when they have described, evaluated, regulated and/or creatively reworked the novel, its author’s life and/or the culture in which the author lived. During the course of the twentieth century, Jane Eyre became increasingly thought of as a legitimate object of study at all levels of the education system. The thesis examines how the text has been studied, and contributes to ongoing debates about National Curriculum English by offering ways of allowing more creativity into the classroom.
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