Journal Article: Kat Powell

UTK graduate student Kat Powell‘s “Engineering Heroes: Revising the Self-Help Narrative in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cousin Phillis” was recently featured in a 2015 special edition issue of The Gaskell Journal.

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This insightful article examines how Elizabeth Gaskell adopted and reworked conventions of Samuel Smiles’s exemplar biography The Life of George Stephenson in her novella Cousin Phillis. It demonstrates the ways Gaskell tests the depth and boundaries of the ideological claims invested in Smiles’s figuration of the inventor hero and thereby draws attention to the logical fallacies of self-help and the potentially dangerous conclusions of the logic of self-interest. In her article, Kat Powell reveals the ways Gaskell reframes the narrative of the heroic invention to better match reality and give higher priority to community values within a capitalist economy, values that acknowledge the importance and proper use of networks and the dangers of self-interestedness.