Alexandra Abletshauser

email -

Research title: The Hearth of Reform. Discourses of Love and Strategies of Sympathy in Canadian Women's Writing, 1890-1914

Research Summary

Research Summary

Although women's fiction was widely associated with the sentimental and emotional, it often engaged with serious topics: for instance, imperialism, race and animal rights. This topic has barely been explored in relation to Canadian literature. My thesis will demonstrate how English-Canadian and French-Canadian women writers used the literature of sentiment and the depiction of emotions to serve a wide variety of political and ideological purposes and to examine issues such as animal rights, imperialism, race and religion. My research project will compare how English-Canadian and French-Canadian women writers engaged with similar topics, such as nationalism and gender, while emphasising different aspects of, or perspectives on, those topics.

The thesis will investigate how Canadian women’s literature of sentiment developed from the 1880s with the publication of Laure Conan’s influential novel Angéline de Montbrun (1881-1882) to the beginning of World War One that changed Canada extensively on the economic, political and social level. Ten authors will be considered, and my selection includes francophone, anglophone and non-white authors, among them Margaret Marshall Saunders, Edith Maude Eaton, and Robertine Barry. Some of the writings were first published in periodicals. In order to analyse their engagement with contemporary social issues, it is crucial to consider them in their original publication contexts. My reading practice will compare the content of the novels and short fiction with that of the surrounding articles and visual material, drawing on recent methodological work in Canadian periodical studies. I will explore in detail how the topics women writers treated were discussed in the English-Canadian as well as the French-Canadian press.



  • Eccles Centre Visiting Fellowship, British Library (2020)
  • William Lauchlan Mann Scholarship (2019)
  • Travel Award, Canada-UK Foundation (2019), £ 1,000
  • Travel Award, British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS) and British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS) (2019), £ 50
  • Research Support Award, University of Glasgow (2019), £ 300
  • Bourse de McGill de formation en Études québécoises (2014), 5,200 $ CAN
  • Bourse du Ministre-président bavarois pour la promotion des études québécoises (2014), 1,500 €
  • Travel Awards, German Association for Canadian Studies, 100 € (2014), 150 € (2015), 150 € (2018)
  • Foundation “Alte Stipendien”, University of Freiburg (2011-2012), 925 €






  • 'Edith Eaton et Sui Sin Far - La voix des Sino-Canadiens' at 'Imagining Canada: 'Discovering' and Navigating 'All Our Relations' in an (Un)Common Country', Emerging Scholars Forum, Association for Canadian Studies in German-Speaking Countries, University of Freiburg / Zoom, September 3-5, 2020
  • 'Kind and Manly. Construction of Masculinity in Marshall Saunders’s Beautiful Joe (1893)' at 'Gender Transgressions – Historical Perspectives', Women’s History Scotland, University of Edinburgh, November 16, 2019’
  • 'Sentimental Fiction? Canadian Women's Writing, 1880-1914', at the 'First Annual Peer Symposium for English Literature PhDs', University of Glasgow, October 25, 2019
  • 'Reform and Regress. Conflicting Emotions and Animal Welfare in Margaret Marshall Saunders's Beautiful Joe (1893)', at 'Emotions in Conflict', University of Ottawa, October 2-4, 2019
  • Chair of panel 'Animal Ethics' at 'Beastly Modernisms', University of Glasgow, September 11-13, 2019






  • English Literature 1B: The Novel and Narratology

Additional Information


  • Associate Researcher at the Graduate School "Factual and Fictional Narration", University of Freiburg
  • Association for Canadian Studies in German-Speaking Countries / Gesellschaft für Kanada-Studien (GKS)
  • British Animal Studies Network (BASN)
  • British Association for Canadian Studies (BACS)
  • British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS)
  • Scottish Network of Modernist Studies (SNoMS)
  • Scottish Centre for Victorian and Neo-Victorian Studies (SCVS)


Other Roles

Hunterian Associate

Great Place Falkirk volunteer

  • Hidden Heritage Online: Industry and Empire (2020)
  • Hidden Heriatge Online: Statues and Monuments (2020)