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Margaret Oliphant’s Carlingford Series

An Original Contribution to the Debate on Religion, Class and Gender in the 1860s and ‘70s


Birgit Kämper

Nineteenth-century observers of social and religious life in England felt that religion, class and gender were frameworks that previous generations had taken for granted but that were becoming more and more problematic as the century progressed. An analysis of Margaret Oliphant’s Chronicles of Carlingford in the context of contemporary fiction and nonfiction demonstrates the extent to which these novels contributed to the contemporary debate.
Oliphant offers a comprehensive and uncommonly balanced picture of the most visible parties in English religious life in the 1860s and ‘70s and draws attention to the arbitrariness and power of social signifying practices. She questions traditional gender roles by portraying talented and self-confident female characters whose superficial conformity to societal conventions can hardly disguise their determination to take control both of their own lives and of the lives of others.
Contents: Margaret Oliphant’s Carlingford series as part of the debate on religion, class and gender in the 1860s and ‘70s – Social signifying practices – Traditional gender roles.