Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Sue Zemka

Second Advisor

Emily Harrington

Third Advisor

Thora Brylowe


I examine three Victorian texts from within a 5-year period: Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s verse-novel Aurora Leigh, Charlotte Brontë’s Villette, and Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Brontë. In reading each of these texts, I interrogate the possibility for textual materials and documents to function as relics and significant objects in the cultivation of productive mourning. I situate this analysis within the rich body of work on relic culture of the Victorian period, as well as affect and media theory of the twenty-first century and, most importantly, consider new possibilities for “reliquary acts” in reading and writing depicted in narratives of the 1850’s. Reading and writing in each text offer productive, active, and highly generative outlets to loss and death.