Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

English Language and Literature

Committee Member

Andrea Kaston Tange, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Laura George, Ph.D.


This thesis argues that craft functions in the nineteenth century as a form of communication that expresses female identity in Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford and Margaret Oliphant's Miss Marjoribanks. By looking at the novels through the lens of Talia Schaffer's craft paradigm in connection with Thing theory, it is possible to make connections between the role of craft and identity, which in turn raises questions about craft and female agency. These connections to female agency illuminate tensions between craft and the economy, gender disparity in the arts, and the limitations of class. In order to explore these notions it is integral to investigate the craft movements that surround them (such as domestic handicrafts, the Design Reform movement, and the Arts and Crafts movement) because each brings with it a set of aesthetic standards that inform craft culture. This inquiry ultimately begs the question: has anything changed in the twenty first century?