Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

English and American Literature


English (en)

Date of Award

Summer 9-1-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

J. Dillon Brown


This project investigates how novels from Howards End (1910) to The Stranger's Child (2011), in revisiting the English country house, reveal the centrality of preservationism to twentieth-century British identity. According to most critics, this site grows increasingly anachronistic as the century progresses, a repository for that which is considered out of time in English culture. Against this view, I demonstrate that the continual literary repurposing of the country house constitutes it as a key setting for appropriation and experimentation, as well as for the critique of outmoded ideologies, rather than the mere commemoration thereof. By attending to the transformations of fictional country houses, this dissertation traces a literary history of twentieth-century Britain adjacent to but distinct from critical narratives of its developing diversification, as well as of its declining grandeur. This history illuminates how contemporary characterizations of an urbanizing, multicultural Britain work to confine many of the legacies of imperialism to a pastoral past, rather than engaging with their still resonant echoes today.


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