Bookish Discussions

Victorian Witches | A Dissertation:


I’ve been moaning about my dissertation on these parts since the start of the year. I don’t want all my research, time and effort to go to waste, so I thought I’d share what I found during the process of writing my dissertation on Victorian witches with you.

So, I recently finished my Master of Arts degree in Victorian Literature at the University of Liverpool. You can find out all about my modules, essays and reading lists here: sem I & sem II. I will eventually have a separate post on my experience as a master student, so let’s not dwell on that here.

Anyway, four months, 53 pages and 16,138 words later, I handed my dissertation (and my final essay ever) in on the 13th September – of all days, smh.

I chose to write on Victorian witches as it combines two of my favourite things (and I had already written on the Brontës for my undergrad diss). I focused on how Victorian authors re-told history, titling my work ‘William Harrison Ainsworth’s and Elizabeth Gaskell’s Historical Storytelling of the Witch Through Famous Witch Hunts/Trials’.

Witches receive very little attention by critics, despite being prevalent in Victorian literature. Due to the fluidity of their definition, as I discovered, witches metamorphised in various forms. Writers were forced to play with the image of the witch because belief in the occult, the supernatural, and in womanhood, was constantly in flux during this century.

I could add to the debate on Victorian Gothic by looking at portrayals of witches from a historical perspective. I focused on Ainsworth’s The Lancashire Witches, which re-told the Pendle Witches, and Gaskell’s ‘Lois the Witch’, which re-told the Salem Witch Trials. Although set on opposite ends of the Atlantic, they explore how women were vilified by small communities. I analysed through obvious themes, such as gender, race and class.

So, I split my introduction into four subsections:

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Bookish Discussions

Victorian Literature | Semester I:

Toda04E96B5F-7203-4B69-9C20-699C1E6170C4y, we’re talking university. As with my undergrad studies (first year, second year, third year I & II), I wanted to discuss my modules with you. I love hearing what other people study and I love talking about what I study.

So, my first semester as a Masters student has drawn to a close. It’s been stressful. I’ve cried more times in the last two and half months than I did at undergrad for three years. It’s been a hard transition (I’ll definitely write a post about this at some point). Despite having a breakdown nearly every week, I’ve actually really enjoyed my studies. I’ve learnt so much about my favourite period. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

(I also studied a module called Research Skills but that’s pretty self-explanatory, very boring and was a core module that I had to do).

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Bookish Discussions

The Reader | Shared Reading Groups

fkfo2119-e1541508527410.jpgI’ve been searching for work experience in publishing for a solid two years now. I’ve gotten no where. I can’t afford to travel and live in London for one/two weeks, and most publishing companies in the North are too ‘small’ to offer anything ‘meaningful’ (what does that even mean?). It’s a frustrating situation to be in. But, by networking with people in Liverpool, I found The Reader. I wanted to share the amazing things they do for people through the power of reading, and wanted to encourage you to volunteer or drop in on one of their sessions.

The Reader was founded in 2008, and it pioneered the use of ‘shared reading to improve well-being, reduce social isolation and build resilience in diverse communities across the UK’. They inspire and support people to read great literature aloud and together. They work with children, people in recovery, prisoners, dementia patients, people with mental and physical conditions, and many more. Essentially, they want to create and bring together a community of people through the love of reading.

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