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Tainted Souls and Painted Faces

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Tainted Souls and Painted Faces

The Rhetoric of Fallenness in Victorian Culture

Amanda Anderson

264 Pages
Paperback
ISBN: 9781501727733
Cornell University Press

Prostitute, adulteress, unmarried woman who engages in sexual relations, victim of seduction—the Victorian "fallen woman" represents a complex array of stigmatized conditions. Amanda Anderson here reconsiders the familiar figure of the fallen woman within the context of mid-Victorian debates over the nature of selfhood, gender, and agency. In richly textured readings of works by Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, among others, she argues that depictions of fallen women express profound cultural anxieties about the very possibility of self-control and traditional moral responsibility.

Reviews

"As the subtitle suggests, Anderson’s subject is not so much the prostitute in Victorian literature as it is the rhetoric the Victorians used to construct ‘fallenness.’"

- CHOICE

"Some ideas in Tainted Souls and Painted Faces will be useful in classroom discussions about the pressures exerted on authors by specific literary forms and generalized cultural anxieties."

- Sally Mitchell, Victorian Studies

About the Author

Amanda Anderson is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities and English at Brown University and Director of the School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell University. She is the author of The Way We Argue Now: A Study in the Cultures of Theory and Powers of Distance: Cosmopolitanism and the Cultivation of Detachment and coeditor of Disciplinarity at the Fin de Siècle.

This work can be downloaded for non-commercial purposes:

Creative Commons License
Tainted Souls and Painted Faces is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.