Jane Austen's balls : the dance of masculinity

Malone, Meaghan (2012) Jane Austen's balls : the dance of masculinity. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

While several scholars have recently offered analyses of male sexuality in Jane Austen's novels and others have examined the gender dynamics of her scenes of dance, there is no extensive study of masculinity as developed in Austen's ballrooms. Focusing specifically on Austen's scenes of dance, this thesis analyzes the ways in which masculinity and the male body are presented in each of her six major works. Reconciling conflicting late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century debates regarding masculinity, Austen creates heroes who are at once historically contingent and surprisingly modern. Her scenes of dance are at the narrative heart of each of her novels, and become opportunities for Austen to bring the body to the foreground. Her characters read each other through their bodies, and the male body is explicitly appraised in a society where sexuality is inextricably linked to visuality. Filtered through the eyes of Austen's female characters, the male body becomes an object of female scrutiny as Austen highlights the social and sexual power of the female gaze. Masculinity is consequently fully embodied in each of Austen's novels, and she presents dance as a man's means of self-fashioning. Moreover, the masculine ideal that Austen creates via the female gaze facilitates reciprocity between heroine and hero, and requires his response and adaptation to her expectations of what a man "ought to be."

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/2365
Item ID: 2365
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 112-121).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 2012
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Masculinity in literature; Dance in literature; Sex in dance; Ballroom dancing

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