Publication Date

April 2015


Lois Brown


College of Letters


English (United States)


This thesis combines archival research on of the poems of Mary Cram, nineteenth century American woman writer, with analyses of A.S. Byatt’s novel Possession and Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia. The first chapter, “Mary Cram, Poet and Writer,” situates Cram within the school of sentimental woman writers of the late nineteenth century and explores the aesthetic judgments that inform archival readings in Stoppard and Byatt’s texts. The second chapter, “Closer Readings,” explores how Cram’s poems portray remarriage and discusses the responsibilities of academics within the archive as portrayed in Possession and Arcadia. The final chapter, “A Woman’s Place,” interrogates the differences between Cram’s and her husband’s writings of place as well as Stoppard and Byatt’s portrayals of writing as a tool for both collaborative and individual female self-making. Ultimately, this thesis argues that encounters in the archive enable liberating reading practices.



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