Megan Steigerwald Presents Research at Symposium

Study examines the portrayal of “fallen women” in Victorian novels.  


Megan Steigerwald ’09 presented, “Understanding the ‘Great Social Evil’ of the 19th Century: The Fallen Woman in the Victorian Novel” at the Symposium for Artists & Scholars on April 17, 2009 at Randolph College.

Steigerwald conducted the research project with her faculty mentor, Mara Amster, associate professor of English, while an undergraduate student at Randolph College.

An abstract of the project follows...

In 1860, a journalist wrote in London’s Saturday Review that “the Social Evil question has become a very popular one–too popular by half . . . We seem to have arrived at this point–that the most interesting class of womanhood is woman at her lowest degradation.” My research focuses on portrayals of this “most interesting class of womanhood”–19th-century British fictional females who, because of circumstance or personal choice, break Victorian sexual and moral norms. I explore what I have defined as the paradigm of the fallen woman narrative and how it relates to the amplified and often melodramatic fall narratives of the sensation novels of the same period.

The Student Symposium of Artists and Scholars provides Randolph College students from all classes and disciplines the opportunity to present the results of their research, scholarship, and creative work to the entire College community and beyond.

The two-day symposium, modeled after a typical academic conference, features oral presentations of student research, readings of creative work, musical performances, and exhibitions of student artwork. The symposium also includes a poster session, reception and a keynote address from a noteworthy academic speaker.

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