Masculine domination in the works of Henry James

  • More than 100 years after Henry James’s death, criticism is still working through unresolved gender issues in his fiction. This study proposes a new interdisciplinary approach to the gendered power relations in James’s novels that fills a crucial vacancy in the literature. Reading James’s intricately woven narrative form through the lens of relational sociology, specifically Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic domination, reconciles some of the most fiercely disputed positions in James studies of the past decades. With its focus on gender-related symbolic domination, this study demonstrates this approach’s potential to probe the depths of James’s fictional social worlds while developing the narratological tools to do so. Many critics have paid attention to the relational nature of James’s social fictions as well as his talent for capturing unspoken, invisible, hidden social constraints. Blatantly missing from the literature is a systematic relational analysis into the specifically Jamesian method of narrating the socio-psychological, embodied responses to power and oppression. The present study closes this research gap. It reveals how James persistently narrates his characters as social agents whose perception, affects, and bodily practices are products of the social structures that they in turn continue to shape and reproduce. Moreover, it traces a development throughout James’s career that reflects his growing sensitivity for the stubbornness of some seemingly insurmountable social constraints. James’s fictional social worlds are relational ones through and through. This study is the first sustained effort to investigate the way in which his narratives capture this interrelatedness.

Download full text files

Export metadata

Author:Wibke Schniedermann
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Christa Buschendorf, Julika Griem
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of Publication (online):2019/01/18
Year of first Publication:2014
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2015/06/25
Release Date:2019/02/07
Tag:Henry James; Pierre Bourdieu; masculine domination; symbolic violence
Page Number:216
Institutes:Neuere Philologien
Dewey Decimal Classification:8 Literatur / 82 Englische, altenglische Literaturen / 820 Englische, altenglische Literaturen
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht