Female Visualities and Urban Experience in Amy Levy’s The Romance of a Shop
Amy Levy’s first novel, The Romance of a Shop (1888), tells the story of four orphaned sisters starting a photography business in late Victorian London. The decision to abandon the domestic safe environment in favour of the risks and pleasures of the modern city allows them to redefine conventional ideologies of space and gender relations. The New Woman proposed by Levy is an urban artist who enjoys riding the omnibus and gazing out at the city through a renovated visual ability. This essay investigates the trope of the female gaze in a reconfiguration of old gender hierarchies, as well as the implications for a woman living in a fin-de-siècle urban environment to find opportunities for social recognition and emancipation.
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