Path Toward a New Discourse: Defining and Sharing Experience in #MeToo and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Jordan Wade

Authors: Jordan Wade

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Creed Greer

College:  College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Abstract

In the modern age of social media, experiences are shared in greater numbers and on a broader scale than ever before. However, even in this period of mass sharing, some still struggle to be heard and understood as their experiences are suppressed and excluded by the dominant discourse. Joining the ongoing feminist discussions surrounding suppression of the female voice and experience, this paper looks at The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, a 19th century novel by Anne Bronte, and the social media driven #MeToo movement to better understand the suppression of female experience. It suggests that the #MeToo movement has, in part, been successful in expanding the discourse of female experiences of sexual assault and harassment because of its ability to facilitate the open-ended sharing and defining of female experience. Further, this paper considers how a fictional novel and a social media movement, separated by over 150 years, can be brought into conversation with one another and, in that critical act, become a new location for sharing and re-defining female experience.

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Ollie Trac
Ollie Trac (@guest_1344)
1 year ago

What a neat way to bring together two completely different eras into conversation with one another. It’s so innovative and something I had never even considered. Great work!

Hope Scheff
Hope Scheff (@guest_3014)
1 year ago

Hi Jordan!

I love your concept! Could you expand on how the language in “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” was defined by male experience? How did you approach the text and what items were you looking for during your analysis thereof?

Jordan Wade
Jordan Wade (@guest_4192)
Reply to  Hope Scheff
1 year ago

Hi Hope!

So I approached the text by looking at how it was structurally presented as well as by looking at the content and word usage found in the text itself. Structurally, the way that female experience is defined by male experience is demonstrated in the way that the voice of the protagonist, Helen, is enclosed on both sides by letters exchanged between two men (which open and close the novel). Essentially, her narrative is visually entrapped within male discourse. Looking directly at the text, the way that female experience was defined by male discourse is also seen in the dichotomous definitions that are assigned to women throughout the novel (angel/monster; pure/corrupt, submissive wife/seductress). Due to their inability to share experiences with one another, and therefore their inability to define them for themselves, women were defined by these problematic polarizations and even defined themselves in the same way.

Caitlyn Parente
Caitlyn Parente (@guest_3314)
1 year ago

Jordan, I think this is so fascinating! Taking the modern narrative and relating it back to a classic is a really interesting and relevant way to analyze the female experience. I’m thankful for research like yours. Great job!

Jourdain Cole
Jourdain Cole (@guest_4396)
1 year ago

Jordan!! You are incredible! I loved hearing about your research and am thankful for the ways that you are sharing your knowledge. You did such a great job, friend!

Della V. Mosley
Della V. Mosley (@guest_4804)
1 year ago

Nice work Jordan!

Carolina Arango
Carolina Arango (@guest_5220)
1 year ago

How do you think this movement and book specifically relate to the female experience in the 21st century? Do you think society has grown past the past suppression of the “MeToo” movement or has just manifested itself into another type of suppression?

Jordan Wade
Jordan Wade (@guest_5890)
Reply to  Carolina Arango
1 year ago

I think they relate specifically in the way that they demonstrate the importance of bringing female experiences into conversation with one another as a way to actively pursue a more authentic and accurate discourse. However, I do not think that a fully authentic and accurate discourse has been achieved. I also think it is quite possible that it will never fully be achieved as we live in a society that is constantly evolving and redefining our experiences. Nonetheless, it’s important that we continue to strive toward a discourse that more accurately defines female experience, especially as, like you mentioned, suppression is manifested in new ways.

Sharon Austin
Sharon Austin (@guest_6602)
1 year ago

Innovative topic. What future research are you planning to do if any?

Dana
Dana (@guest_6858)
1 year ago

This is such an important topic to study! Thank you so much Jordan!

Hannah Calderazzo
Hannah Calderazzo (@guest_7128)
1 year ago

Hi Jordan! I really loved your research topic, and the way in which you connected the more recent movement of #MeToo to the Victorian feminist writings of the Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Your poster was beautifully designed, and I think you did an excellent job of presenting your topic. I was curious what caused your to align #MeToo with Anne Bronte’s novel, and also what specific close readings from the novel you connected to the #MeToo experience?

Tyler Kellenberger
Tyler Kellenberger (@guest_7332)
1 year ago

Hi Jordan! I had not heard of Anne Bronte before this presentation (although I am a big fan of her sister Emily Bronte), and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall sounds like a very intriguing novel. I have to agree with a couple of the previous comments which were made by Ollie and Hannah. I applaud you for your analysis and discovery of thematic elements relating to the suppression of the female voice/experience from a much older era, themes which are just as pervasive today but in a starkly different social landscape and overall environment. Great job!!

Tyler Kellenberger
Tyler Kellenberger (@guest_7368)
1 year ago

Hey Jordan, great job! I had not heard of Anne Bronte before this presentation (although I am a big fan of her sister, Emily Bronte), but I think that The Tenant of Wildfell Hall sounds like a very intriguing novel. I do have to agree with some of the previous comments that were made by Ollie and Hannah. I applaud you for your analysis and discovery of thematic elements relating to the suppression of the female voice/experience from an era long ago, which are equally pervasive today, as you described, just in a starkly different social landscape and overall environment. Wonderful presentation!!

Tyler Kellenberger
Tyler Kellenberger (@guest_7682)
1 year ago

I had to re-type that comment because of a glitch but apparently they both went through. My apologies!