Date of Graduation

Spring 2014

Degree

Master of Arts in English

Department

English

Committee Chair

Shannon Wooden

Keywords

Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Sayers, interwar fiction, shell-shock, war trauma, narrative illness, freud, uncanny, masculinity, crime fiction, theory, literature

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature

Abstract

The interwar years in England, between WWI and WWII, euphemistically known as "the Long-Weekend," was, in reality, a time of great change and challenge. Interwar literature that reflects the changing social issues, especially in terms of the war, surrounding these years is important for understanding this impactful period. Virginia Woolf's novel, Mrs. Dalloway, is among the first war trauma novels of this period and Dorothy L. Sayers, a contemporary of Woolf's, is also writing about shell-shock during this time, but through the genre of her popular detective fiction. Both novels are among the first to directly address the physical and psychological trauma of shell-shock, making them valuable artifacts for study. In this thesis, I examined Woolf's novel, Mrs. Dalloway, alongside Sayers' novel, The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, for their textual representations of shell-shock. I used the multiple theoretical lenses of Sigmund Freud's theory of the uncanny, the more modern theoretical lens Arthur Frank's theory of narrative illness, and an exploration of the novels' characters' reconstruction of masculinity in context of the hegemonic patriarchal culture of the interwar period. Through this study, I have concluded that both authors effectively utilized psychological elements to create novels that offer relevant and valuable testimonies that can be classified as trauma narratives. I have also concluded that each authors' work not only displays literary craftsmanship, but also gives insight into cultural and historical movements, as well as offer understanding and healing that cross generational boundaries.

Copyright

© Bambi L. Whitaker

Campus Only

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