Aquatic Matter in Victorian Fiction

Kluwick, Ursula (2019). Aquatic Matter in Victorian Fiction. Open Cultural Studies, 3(1), pp. 245-255. De Gruyter 10.1515/culture-2019-0022

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This essay looks at water in Victorian fiction and argues that it is important not just as motif or symbol—which is how literary criticism has traditionally approached it—but as a metamorphic substance. I propose a material ecocritical framework in order to conceptualise water as literary matter, and I analyse selected passages from four canonical Victorian novels through a focus on aquatic materialisation and transformation. I argue that through the emphasis on these processes in a variety of water scenes from Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Lady Audley’s Secret, and Dracula, water emerges as not inert but agential. Through a material ecocritical approach which rejects intentionality as a precondition of agency, representations of nature as animate can be reconceived as not necessarily anthropomorphic or as instances of the pathetic fallacy, but as bearing witness to how agency is shared by humans and their environment.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures

UniBE Contributor:

Kluwick, Ursula Maria

Subjects:

800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 820 English & Old English literatures
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages

ISSN:

2451-3474

Publisher:

De Gruyter

Language:

English

Submitter:

Ursula Maria Kluwick Kälin

Date Deposited:

19 Sep 2019 08:43

Last Modified:

23 Oct 2019 10:13

Publisher DOI:

10.1515/culture-2019-0022

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.133305

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/133305

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