Macquarie University
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Gender reshaping genre in Aurora Leigh

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posted on 2022-03-28, 16:52 authored by Melissa Rooney
Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh is an important nineteenth-century, female-authored epic that has had a significant impact on the way gender is defined within the epic genre. Before the publication of Aurora Leigh, gender representations in epic were defined by the seminal work of the genre, Homer’s Iliad, which focuses on stereotypically masculine concerns such as war, nationhood and male relationships in a world where status is gained through competitiveness. Aurora Leigh reconfigures these epic and heroic conventions into a form more suited to her female protagonist. This research responds to the current lack of dedicated analysis into the broader influence of gender on the epic tradition and will show how gender representations in Aurora Leigh deviate from the traditional epic model as defined by The Iliad. Aurora Leigh reframes the epic in three significant ways that make female representation and discourse more viable. Barratt Browning reshapes the heart of the epic by inserting into it her female protagonist; by the reframing of the locale to the domestic and wider world of nineteenth-century English social politics; and through the personalisation of the narration from the third person omniscient bard to an internalised individualistic first-person narrative. Through these processes of feminisation, Barrett Browning challenges and remodels the widely held belief that the epic is a genre that is inherently and exclusively equipped to sing of arms and the man, or of the ways of God and man.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- I. The female heroine -- II. Gendered locale -- III. Re-gendering narrative -- Conclusion.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 78-83

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of English

Department, Centre or School

Department of English

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Geoffrey Payne

Additional Supervisor 1

Paul Sheehan


Copyright Melissa Rooney 015. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (83 pages)

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