Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities
2010—2011 Forum on Virtuality
The Ties that Bind: A Study of Family Dynamics in Romantic Era Literature
In the late eighteenth century, historical turmoil arose in Europe in reaction to Enlightenment ideals. At this time, national politics were in flux, and the regime of royal families was no longer as secure as it once had been. This new period, deemed “Romanticism,” saw the advent of popular fiction by authors such as Fanny Burney, Robert Bage, and Ann Radcliffe. Each of these authors makes use of a “virtual” family in his and her narratives to facilitate character development or to stimulate the progression of the plot. Whether these stories are satirical commentaries on aristocratic society or Gothic adventures in the sinister countryside, each author manipulates the nuclear family in a manner that mirrors the deconstruction of the nonfictional families of the period.