“Useful to students and scholars alike—and to general readers—this book uses literature to address the respectability of honest toil, the exploitation of the working class, child labor, and 19th–century work that was all too often oppressive and spiritually enervating.”
G. A. Cevasco, St. John’s University, New York
“Bradshaw and Ozment’s anthology displays the vast conversation occurring and the breadth of the literature included about work in the nineteenth century.”
English Literature in Transition 1880–1820
One of the most recurrent and controversial subjects of nineteenth–century discourse was work. Many thinkers associated work with honest pursuit of doing good, not the curse accompanying exile from Eden but rather “a great gift of God.” Sincerely undertaken work comprised a mission entailing a commitment to serve others and promote a better future for all.
Satisfaction with what work could do for individuals had its counterbalance in the anger and dismay expressed at the conditions of those whom Robert Owen, in 1817, first called the “working class.” What working–class people confronted both at the labor site and at their lodgings was construed as oppressive, and the misery of their lives became the subject of sentimental poetry, government report, popular fiction, and journalistic expose. Perhaps as heated as the discussion about conditions of lower–class workers was the conversation about separate spheres of work for men and women. This conversation, too, found its way into the literature and public discourse of the day.
In The Voice of Toil, the editors have collected the central writings from a pivotal place and time, including poems, stories, essays, and a play that reflect four prominent ways in which the subject of work was addressed: Work as Mission, Work as Opportunity, Work as Oppression, and (Separate) Spheres of Work. The resulting anthology offers a provocative text for students of nineteenth-century British literature and history and a valuable resource for scholars.
The text includes readings from John Wesley, William Blake, Elizabeth Gaskell, William Wordsworth, Charles Dickens, Florence Nightingale, William Morris, Joanna Baillie, Friedrich Engels, Matthew Arnold, Angela Burdett–Coutts, John Stuart Mill, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Bernard Shaw and many others.
David J. Bradshaw teaches classical and British literature at Warren Wilson College where he chairs the English Department. More info →
Suzanne Ozment is professor of English and dean of undergraduate studies at The Citadel, and for ten years edited the interdisciplinary journal, Nineteenth–Century Studies. More info →
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The career of Matthew Arnold as an eminent poet and the preeminent critic of his generation constitutes a remarkable historical spectacle orchestrated by a host of powerful Victorian cultural institutions.The Cultural Production of Matthew Arnold investigates these constructions by situating Arnold’s poetry in a number of contexts that partially shaped it.
Attitudes toward punishment and forgiveness in English society of the nineteenth century came, for the most part, out of Christianity. In actual experience the ideal was not often met, but in the literature of the time the model was important. For novelists attempting to tell exciting and dramatic stories, violent and criminal activities played an important role, and, according to convention, had to be corrected through poetic justice or human punishment.
During the nineteenth century, geography primers shaped the worldviews of Britain’s ruling classes and laid the foundation for an increasingly globalized world. Written by middle-class women who mapped the world that they had neither funds nor freedom to traverse, the primers employed rhetorical tropes such as the Family of Man or discussions of food and customs in order to plot other cultures along an imperial hierarchy.Cross-disciplinary
From the 1860s through the early twentieth century, Great Britain saw the rise of the department store and the institutionalization of a gendered sphere of consumption.
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