Date of Award

Summer 2009

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Krueger, Christine L.

Second Advisor

Duffy, Edward

Third Advisor

Spargo, R. C.


In the North British Review of November 1861, a casual reference to Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) by J.F. MacLennan places her alongside Dickens as a writer seeking to influence the legal reforms of Victorian Britain: "A general system may indeed be attacked with some artistic success, as the poor laws were by Miss Martineau, or the abuses of the Court of Chancery by Mr. Dickens" (188). In drawing such attention to her literary interventions in Poor Law debates nearly thirty years after the publication of her novel Cousin Marshall and the four novels of her Poor Laws and Paupers series, the reference suggests that that both Martineau's modes of attack as well as the artistic success she achieved in their crafting will reward close attention. At the same time, however, the comparison may raise questions among modem readers for whom literary artistry and the polemic of an attack may not cooperate as obviously as MacLennan's matter-of-fact tone implies. What would such an attack look like? What does "some" artistic success suggest in this evaluation? How would the attack reach its target?...



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