chapter  7
8 Pages

Historicising genre (1): the cultural moment of the woman's sensation novel

Although women, as producers, consumers or subjects, were at the centre of the sensation debates, comparatively few contemporary commentators addressed the interesting question of why women should have played such a key role in the rise of the sensation novel. Margaret Oliphant was one who did, arguing that female sensation fiction was, among other things, the woman writer's protest against the double standard on the issue of sexual purity. However, she was chiefly interested in condemning rather than analysing this fact, and took the view that women's reading and writing of sensation fiction were a betrayal of both their essential womanhood and their womanliness.