Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Ellen Rosenman


Values in the Air argues that nineteenth-century authors attempted to challenge the individualizing and atomizing effects of the increasingly powerful and abstract investment economy by portraying the necessity of other fields of capital (cultural, social, domestic) to the formation and maintenance of local, knowable communities. I first look at the depiction of a successful integration of diverse capitals embodied in the figure of the male mill owner, wherein the idea of land stewardship is repurposed to include factories. Chapter 2 depicts an encroaching pessimism about tradition’s ability to answer the demands of the modern industrial economy even as the possibility of bringing women into the center of industrial capital as equal participants is foreclosed. With chapter 3, I turn my attention to the way that the abstract nature of the investment economy obscures the value of—and relationships between—different fields of capital. The focus of chapter 3 is how land becomes implicated in the abstract economy, revealing the country estate to be little more than a bargaining chip, and reducing its ability to act as a foil for capitalism. Finally, the relationship between women and the country bank depicts the clash of the myth of separate spheres and the myth of a logical economy. While the scales of Victorian studies generally emphasize the novel’s development of the individual, or its representation of uncountable populations, Values in the Air plots a middle stratum wherein novels model networks and relationships that structure local, knowable communities. Within these communities, it is possible to imagine individual women in positions of financial power even as it is unclear how multiple forms of value can be gendered and exchanged.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)