Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

English, MA

Committee Chair

Ryan, Susan

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Griffin, Susan

Committee Member

Griffin, Susan

Committee Member

Griffin, Jo Ann

Author's Keywords

irony; periodical; feminism; domesticity; humor


This project examines the works of Kesiah Shelton, a writer for popular magazines in the late nineteenth century who used irony in interesting ways to critique the social norms of the period. Although, scholars have noted that female authorship was a an expanding field during this period, there were very specific gendered expectations limiting what female authors wrote about; women were primarily limited to writing about domestic matters and were discouraged from taking up other topics associated with the male public sphere such as politics. Many scholars have noted how the cult of domesticity valorized women as superior moral beings, creating a stark contrast to the patriarchal norms that sought to silence them. Throughout this thesis, I will show how Shelton exploits this collision, juxtaposing these opposing social norms to set up an ironic stage in order to highlight the hypocrisy of traditional gender norms.