Cosham, Charlotte (2012)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.
‘Michael Field’ was the pseudonym of two women, the aunt and niece Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper, who lived and wrote together during the turn of the twentieth century. Recent years has seen an increased critical interest in their poetry, with particular attention paid to the dynamics of their pen-name within gender politics of the period. However, little attention has been paid to their most impressive creation – a twenty-eight volume journal of their ‘Works and Days’ as Michael Field. By offering a close-reading of their strategies of self-representation, this thesis investigates the journal as a site where the women explored and performed their engagement with identity politics, and charted their own response to changing epistemologies of the subject during the nineteenth century. I situate their ideas of the autobiographical subject against a trajectory of self-representation that links the theory and practice of Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus to that of Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes. Using these texts to illuminate the ideas under investigation in Works and Days, I explore how the Michael Field diaries contribute an important interjection into both nineteenth century epistemologies of the subject and theories of autobiographical writing.
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