Fall Convocation 2018: PhD and MA in English

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Congratulations to Sarah Rangaratnam, awarded Doctor of Philosophy in English and Film Studies.
Dissertation: Girls’ Voices of the Eighteenth Century: The Development of a Genre for Young Female Readers, 1740-1800.
Advisor: Eleanor Ty

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Congratulations, Roxanne Hearn, awarded MA in English.
Roxanne is continuing her studies, starting her first year PhD at Laurier.

 

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Congratulations, Rachel Schryver, awarded MA in English. Rachel received the Award for Outstanding Graduate Work at convocation.
She is currently employed at Laurier’s Communications, Public Affairs and Marketing office where she did her Practicum in the spring.

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Congratulations, Dawn Matthew, awarded MA in English.
Dawn works at Laurier Library in Interlibrary and User Services.

 

Story and 3 Photos by Eleanor Ty.

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Doctoral Dissertation Exam: Sarah Rangaratnam

Sarah Rangaratnam
PhD in English and Film Studies

Girls’ Voices of the Eighteenth Century: The Development of a Genre for Young Female Readers, 1749-1800

Friday September 7, 2018   10:30AM
Alumni Hall Boardroom, Waterloo Campus

Chair: Kathryn Carter
Advisor: Eleanor Ty
Committee: Andrea Austin, Katherine Bell
Internal/External: Andrea Brown
External Examiner: Dr. Lissa Paul (Brock University)

Just as they do today, adolescent girls functioned as a cultural force in the eighteenth century, and it was commercially viable for authors and publishers to attract and sustain the attention of these teenaged readers.  Girls’ Voices of the Eighteenth Century: The Development of a Genre for Young Female Readers, 1740-1800, examines how four female authors leveraged elements of fairy tales, romances and gothic fiction, and developed dialogue and humour in their texts, to reflect the interests and literary awareness of their target audience of adolescent girls.  My study begins with an investigation of the legacy of early French fairy tales in these texts, particularly in the work of Sarah Fielding, who was inspired by the potential of the fairy tale form and its cast of female protagonists. I then study the work of Mary Ann and Dorothy Kilner, who demonstrated the adolescent’s increasing awareness of power imbalances in the larger, adult world, and gave voice to the underdog in class and gender hierarchies.  Finally, I consider the voice of female characters in the texts of Ellenor Fenn, who was subversive in her use of fairy tale and gothic features, recognizing that both genres were popular in the period with adolescent readers.  Fenn was especially unique for her conscious appropriation of teenage colloquial speech in an attempt to entertain and engage her youthful audiences. Fielding, Fenn, and the Kilners recognized the potential of a new genre of text – the real precursor, it could be argued, to the contemporary YA novel – in which narrative form was expressly tailored to appeal to and to address the adolescent girls themselves.  As experienced pedagogues, their intimacy with the young people in their care provided insight into the experience of eighteenth-century youth.  This understanding especially shines in their work for adolescent girls, in which dialogue is rich, and characters seem to speak for the first time in their own voices.