Landscapes and genres in the prose of Charlotte Smith

Brown, D. J. (2017) Landscapes and genres in the prose of Charlotte Smith. Doctoral theses, University of Chichester.

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Despite increasing interest in the work of Charlotte Smith, a consistent approach to her prose
has remained elusive. This thesis addresses all of Smith’s fiction for adults. By drawing
attention to Smith’s use of landscape, and her portrayal of non-urban landscapes through a range of descriptive filters, this project shows how Smith uses outdoor space to educate her
protagonists and her readers about their positions–both practical and ideological. We see her
deftly adopting and then exposing different descriptive registers to foreground the choices
involved in reading and interpretation. Furthermore, periods of escape to these non-urban
spaces, and the practise of their analysis, allow Smith’s heroines to develop a sense of personal agency. Then, in her fiction from 1794 onwards, Smith highlights the danger of other
individuals who intervene in this, forcing their own reading of the surroundings upon the
protagonist, to the latter’s detriment. Becoming aware of these choices about reading, as with
more practical choices about marriage, finance, and location, are essential to Smith’s promotion
of individual agency.

This thesis, as well as exploring Smith’s experimentation with foregrounding personal independence in her prose, also situates this alongside eighteenth-century travel writing. It reveals that the chopping and changing between different language styles seen in Smith’s fiction has similarities to the playfulness of travel writing. It also suggests a new approach to the
analysis of landscape, extending the extensive, recent, critical focus upon the urban spaces of
the eighteenth century. By looking at the construction of Smith’s landscapes, and emphasising
Smith’s reliance upon multiple discourses, this study suggests the need for a more complex
decoding of the outdoors spaces featured in the fiction of the late eighteenth century. It models
how such a complex reading of landscape might occur, and demonstrates the value of it

Publication Type: Theses (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: prose, fiction, eighteenth-century travel writing, personal independence, landscape, non-urban space
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN3311 Prose
Divisions: Student Research > Doctoral
Depositing User: Karen Smith
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2024 11:09
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 11:09

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