Victorian Literature and Culture
John Kucich, Rutgers University

Political Melodrama Meets Domestic Fiction: The Politics of Genre in North and South

Abstract

Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South hybridizes two nineteenth-century narrative genres—political melodrama and domestic fiction—to create new frameworks for political discourse through generic dissonance. Her novel “relocates” the conventions of these two genres, transplanting the formal, thematic, and rhetorical conventions of each genre to the plot-lines and subject matter of the other. Such relocation undermines normative expectations about both genres, and opens possibilities for new kinds of stories about social conflict.