The girls' school story : a re-reading
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The very mention of the genre of the 'girls' school story' tends to provoke sniggers. Critics, teachers and librarians have combined throughout the century to attack a genre which encourages loyalty, hard work, team spirit, cleanliness and godliness. This dissertation asks why this attack took place and suggests one possible answer - the girls' school story was a radical and therefore feared genre. The thesis provides a brief history of the genre with reference to its connections with the Victorian novel and its peculiarly British status. Through examination of reading surveys, newspapers and early critical works it establishes both the popularity of the genre amongst its intended audience and the vitriolic nature of the attack against it. Biographical information about the writers of the school story begins to answer why the establishment may have been afraid of the influence of the purveyors of girls' school stories. By discussing their depiction of education, religion, women's roles and war the dissertation shows in what respects the genre can be seen as radical and shows how the increasing conventionality of the genre coincided with its decline in vigour and popularity. The influence of the oeuvre is then revealed in the discussion of its effects on adult literature.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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