This book examines images of female illness and invalidism as a metaphor of women's position of invisibility in Victorian and fin-de-siècle America, which pervade the fiction of the Virginia writer Ellen Glasgow (Richmond, 1873-1945). The study contends that the author explores the Victorian cult of invalidism to reveal the mechanisms of patriarchy: her novels warn against adhering to its values, since women are moulded to become epitomes of extreme delicacy and selflessness, being ultimately reduced to virtual inexistence. Many times physically incapacitating, Glasgow seems to suggest, the doctrine of female self-effacement always debilitates women's autonomy as human beings. The female invalids in Glasgow’s fiction thus operate as uncanny mirrors of the self women become if they adhere to the traditional code of femininity and its adjoining principle of self-sacrifice.
Biographical Note: Emma Dominguez-Rué graduated in English at the University of Lleida (Catalunya, Spain) and studied an MA in English Literature at Swansea University (UK). She specialised in female invalidism in the fiction of Ellen Glasgow and read her PhD dissertation at the University of Lleida (Spain) in 2005. Aside from American Studies, she has also worked on Victorian and Gothic fiction under a feminist perspective. She is currently teaching in the Department of English at the University of Lleida and she is member of ENAS, a European research network working on perspectives of ageing in literature and culture ageing studies.
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