July 23, 2010

Maps in the Novel, part II

Follow-up to "A Fine Thing to Study": Maps in the Victorian novel from Charlotte's Research blog

After my previous post, I was starting to question the assumptions I'd made about gender and maps- are maps a masculine form of knowledge in the novel? It occurred to me that whilst maps are easily regarded as such, being produced by and for various masculine projects of Imperialism/ land ownership/ property control/ etc., all the instances I've come across of maps being used for educational purposes were in relation to female characters. It got me wondering whether maps were in fact perhaps more associated with female education - which tends to be undertaken at home under the direction of a governess/tutor or through private study, and therefore maps offer an easily accessible form through which to learn, imparting knowledge without the need of a tutor, often owned by families - rather than the more formal education that boys received. But then in re-reading The Mill on the Floss, I came across a reference in relation to Tom Tulliver's education: his father is speculating on whether the teaching of Mr Stelling is adequate observes "that there were no maps, and  not enough 'summing,' but he made no formal complaint to Mr Stelling" (p. 196). Maps are also an intended outcome of Tom's schooling: Mr Tulliver has "a vague intention that Tom should be put to some business which included the drawing out of plans and maps" (p. 176). Nothing conclusive to be drawn from this (or, indeed, any of the other examples I've been thinking about), but an interesting addition to the theme nonetheless.

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