'A hapless race’: supernatural social satire in May Kendall’s poetry

King, Gemma (2014). 'A hapless race’: supernatural social satire in May Kendall’s poetry. University of Birmingham. M.Phil.

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The decades around the fin de siècle are widely regarded as a period of rapid transition and development to which the Victorians reacted with excitement and anxiety. It was also a period permeated by interest in supernatural phenomena such as ghosts, fairies, and telepathic demonstrations, spurred by the challenges of modernity to pre-existing forms of knowledge, belief, and social organisation. This thesis examines the response of the late-Victorian writer and social activist, May Kendall, to such developments, arguing that she utilised the supernatural as a vehicle for social satire and is a significant contributor to the history of a literature of social critique. Largely overlooked in modern academia, there exists only limited criticism of Kendall’s work, and no sustained examination of her supernatural poetry. To address this deficiency, I balance close reading of key poems with reference to a wider selection of her work, considered in the context of their original publications, such as Victorian periodicals. I further argue that her distinct sense of humour distinguishes Kendall amongst fin de siècle poets, stimulating the popular reception of her work and contributing to the increasing scholarly interest in Kendall as part of the recovery of women writers from the period.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Phil.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Phil.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/4774


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