Wording deeds: the figure of the suffragette in contemporary british fiction

Universitat de les Illes Balears
Publication year

When I made this entry, access to the thesis was not yet permitted. Here's the English version of the abstract:

This thesis examines the representation and utilisation of the suffragette figure in contemporary novels set in the context of the British female suffrage movement. My aim is to explore how the quintessential feminist icon has been either commemorated or commodified in four historical romances Margaret Dickinson's Suffragette Girl (2009), Katie MacAlister's Suffragette in the City (2011), Courtney Milan's The Suffragette Scandal (2014), and Evie Dunmore's A Rogue of Ones Own (2020) and three works of historical fiction: Tracy Chevalier's Falling Angels (2001), Kate Muir's Suffragette City (1999), and Lissa Evans's Old Baggage (2018). I read all these novels to identify how this historical period is recreated and how they respond to the various post/feminist debates through the representation of the suffrage movement. In Chapter One, I offer an overview of the movement and the literature generated around the fight for the vote. In Chapter Two, I study four historical romance novels as postfeminist marketing tools proving that they romanticise the figure of the suffragette to transmit and foster hegemonic romantic values. In Chapter Three, I discuss Falling Angels from an alternative postfeminist perspective arguing that Chevalier recuperates the motif of a woman's transformation into the Cause to remind readers of the suffragettes' sacrifices and triumphs and of the need to continue fighting for equality. In Chapter Four, I analyse Suffragette City and Old Baggage as didactic novels which reflect on post/feminist debates through the intergenerational exchanges between an older suffragette and younger female characters and work as revisionist versions of the movement. These varied and, at times, contradictory depictions and usages of the suffragette allow me to prove that this figure has been both repurposed for commodifying ends and revisited and recuperated with revisionist and commemorative purposes, bearing witness to the multifaceted nature of this feminist symbol in contemporary British literature.