Gagné 2011 Bodies

Title Information

Author: Ann Marie Carmela Gagné

Title: Touching Bodies/Bodies Touching

Subtitle: The Ethics of Touch in Victorian Literature (1860-1900)

Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, University of Western Ontario

Year: 2011

Pages: ix + 240pp.

Language: English

Keywords: 19th Century | English History Representations: Literature / Christina Rossetti | Types: "Demonic Rape"

Full Text

Link: Scholarship@Western (Free Access)

Additional Information

Author: Ann Gagne:


»Tactility becomes a marked preoccupation in mid-Victorian literature. The description of how characters touch one another and negotiate their surroundings through tactility reinforces the ethics of intersubjectivity in Victorian England. I argue that touch becomes representative of embodied experience in Victorian literature. As well, touch goes beyond the explicit moral taxonomies found in etiquette books to provide implicit guiding principles for the negotiation of both the public and the private. The Contagious Diseases Acts (CDAs) serve as a point of departure for an analysis of tactility in Victorian literature for the CDAs emphasized and reinforced the importance of legislating touch. I focus on four specific categories of touch which create or modify embodiment in Victorian literature.
Chapter one looks at reciprocal touch and the ethics of care as seen in "Goblin Market," "Modern Love," and "The Leper." Chapter two argues that touch can create, reinforce, or destroy material confines and spatial architecture; especially in conjunction with performance, as seen in Ruskin‘s "The Ethics of the Dust" and Bell and Robins‘s Alan's Wife. Chapter three situates self-touching in relation to textual representations of same-sex relationships as seen in the poetry of Michael Field and Edward Carpenter and Teleny. The fourth chapter analyzes the depiction of telepathic touch, a touch where the spiritual becomes material again. This ghostly touch appears in Hardy‘s "The Withered Arm" and Wilkie Collins‘s "Mrs. Zant and the Ghost." In the fifth and final chapter I elucidate several types of touch in Lady Audley's Secret, to in turn argue that there are many hands at work in the novel. Ultimately my dissertation reinforces the importance of tactility in mid to late-Victorian literature as a way to address embodiment within a society obsessed with methods of negotiation.« (Source: Thesis)


  Abstract (p. iii)
  Acknowledgments (p. iv)
  List of Figures (p. ix)
  Introduction (p. 1)
    1.1 The Contagious Diseases Acts (p. 4)
    1.2 The Etiquette and Ethics of Touch (p. 12)
    1.3 Keywords and Categories of Touch (p. 15)
    1.4 Reciprocal Touch (p. 17)
    1.5 Touch That Creates Space and Architecture (p. 20)
    1.6 Self-Touch (p. 21)
    1.7 Telepathic Touch (p. 23)
    1.8 Analyzing the Literature (p. 25)
  2 Touching Me: Touching You (p. 28)
    2.1 "Goblin Market" (p. 31)
      2.1.1 The Ethics of Care in "Goblin Market": Taking Care of My Sister (p. 39)
      2.1.2 Unethical Touch, Goblin Rape, and Bodily Sacrifice in "Goblin Market" (p. 44)
    2.2 "Modern Love" (p. 49)
    2.3 "The Leper" (p. 62)
    2.4 Reciprocal Touching: Questioning the Liminal (p. 68)
  3 Tactile Architecture: Embodying Performance (p. 70)
    3.1 The Ethics of the Dust (p. 75)
    3.2 Alan's Wife (p. 96)
    3.3 "Theodora: A Fragment" (p. 113)
      3.3.1 Types of Touch in "Theodora: A Fragment" (p. 113)
      3.3.2 Theodora as a Fragment of Six Chapters (p. 114)
      3.3.3 Bodily Architecture/Tactile Cartography (p. 117)
  4 Homosocial, Homosexual: Touching the Self (p. 128)
    4.1 Self-Touch/Homo-Touch (p. 129)
    4.2 Michael Field: Touching Sappho (p. 141)
    4.3 Edward Carpenter: Social Crusader and Author (p. 146)
    4.4 "Framing it with her hands": George Egerton's "Gone Under" (p. 149)
    4.5 Ghosting Touch, Queering Tactility, and Regegotiating Sexuality within the Spiritualism of Teleny (p. 162)
      4.5.1 Telepathy and the Victorians (p. 163)
      4.5.2 Teleny and Wilde (p. 164)
      4.5.3 Queer Bodies....Queer Conclusions (p. 169)
  5 Telepathic Touch (p. 170)
    5.1 Hardy, Telepathy, Theory (p. 172)
      5.1.1 Hardy's Ethics of Touch: Telepathic Touch in "The Withered Arm" and "Haunting Fingers" (p. 174)
    5.2 Wilkie Collins's "Mrs. Zant and the Ghost" (p. 185)
    5.3 And the Moral of the Story is... (p. 190)
  6 Lady Audley's Secret: Manus Ex Machina (p. 191)
    6.1 When I Think About You I Touch My Jewels: Reciprocal Touch in Lady Audley's Secret (p. 193)
    6.2 If I Could Write You a Letter (p. 198)
    6.3 Architecture in Essex (p. 199)
    6.4 The Homosocial and the Homoerotic in Lady Audley's Secret (p. 202)
    6.5 Spectre of Touch: The Manus Ex Machina (p. 203)
    6.6 Lady Audley's Conclusion (p. 207)
  7 Conclusion (p. 209)
    7.1 The Bigger Question (p. 209)
    7.2 Whose Space? (p. 216)
    7.3 Modern Contagion (p. 217)
    7.4 Self-Touch and Telepathic Touch in the Electronic Age (p. 219)
    7.5 Bodies Touching/Touching Bodies (p. 221)
  Bibliography (p. 224)
  Curriculum Vitae (p. 239)

Wikipedia: Christina Rossetti: Goblin Market

Added: December 13, 2014 – Last updated: December 13, 2014