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The Offenses Against the Person Act of 1828 opened magistrates’ courts to abused working-class wives. Newspapers in turn reported on these proceedings, and in this way the Victorian scrutiny of domestic conduct began. But how did popular fiction treat “private” family violence? Bleak Houses: Marital Violence in Victorian Fiction traces novelists’ engagement with the wife-assault debates in the public press between 1828 and the turn of the century.Lisa
Featuring innovative research by emergent and established scholars, The Fin-de-Siècle Poem throws new light on the remarkable diversity of poetry produced at the close of the nineteenth century in England. Opening with a detailed preface that explains why literary historians have frequently underrated fin-de-siècle poetry, the collection shows how a strikingly rich body of lyrical and narrative poems anticipated many of the developments traditionally attributed to Modernism.
The Victorians were image obsessed. The middle decades of the nineteenth century saw an unprecedented growth in the picture industry. Technological advances enabled the Victorians to adorn with images the pages of their books and the walls of their homes. But this was not a wholly visual culture. Pictorial Victorians focuses on two of the most popular mid-nineteenth-century genres—illustration and narrative painting—that blurred the line between the visual and textual.Illustration
The late-Victorian discovery of the music hall by English intellectuals marks a crucial moment in the history of popular culture. Music Hall and Modernity demonstrates how such pioneering cultural critics as Arthur Symons and Elizabeth Robins Pennell used the music hall to secure and promote their professional identity as guardians of taste and national welfare. These social arbiters were, at the same time, devotees of the spontaneous culture of “the people.”In
Raising the Dust identifies a heretofore-overlooked literary phenomenon that author Beth Sutton-Ramspeck calls “literary housekeeping.” The three writers she examines rejected turn-of-the-century aestheticism and modernism in favor of a literature that is practical, even ostensibly mundane, designed to “set the human household in order.”To
In the first half of the nineteenth century, England became quite literally a world on wheels. The sweeping technological changes wrought by the railways, steam-powered factory engines, and progressively more sophisticated wheeled conveyances of all types produced a corresponding revolution in Victorian iconography: the image of the wheel emerged as a dominant trope for power, modernity, and progress.In
In Victorian England, virtually all women were taught to sew; needlework was allied with images of domestic economy and with traditional female roles of wife and mother- with home rather than factory. The professional seamstress, however, labored long hours for very small wages creating gowns for the upper and middle classes.
From the 1820s through the 1840s, debate raged over what Thomas Carlyle famously termed “the Condition of England Question.” While much of the debate focused on how to remedy the material sufferings of the rural and urban working classes, for three writers in particular—William Cobbett, Thomas Carlyle, and Benjamin Disraeli–the times were marked by an even more pervasive crisis that threatened not only the material lives of workers, but also the very stability of meaning itself.
Although George Eliot has long been described as “the novelist of the Midlands,” she often brought the outer reaches of the empire home in her work. Dark Smiles: Race and Desire in George Eliot studies Eliot’s problematic, career-long interest in representing racial and ethnic Otherness.Placing
In 1837, when Queen Victoria came to the throne, no institution of higher education in Britain was open to women. By the end of the century, a quiet revolution had occurred: women had penetrated even the venerable walls of Oxford and Cambridge and could earn degrees at the many new universities founded during Victoria’s reign. During the same period, novelists increasingly put intellectually ambitious heroines students, teachers, and frustrated scholars—at the center of their books.
Tracing the Victorian crisis over the representation of working-class women to the 1842 Parliamentary bluebook on mines, with its controversial images of women at work, Hidden Hands argues that the female industrial worker became even more dangerous to represent than the prostitute or the male radical because she exposed crucial contradictions between the class and gender ideologies of the period and its economic realities.Drawing
Our Lady of Victorian Feminism is about three nineteenth-century women (Jameson, Margaret Fuller, and George Eliot), Protestants by background and feminists by conviction, who are curiously and crucially linked by their extensive use of the Madonna in arguments designed to empower women.
The Voice of Toil collects poems, stories, essays, and a play that reflect ways in which work, one of the most recurrent and controversial subjects of nineteenth–century discourse, was addressed. The resulting anthology offers a provocative text for students of nineteenth-century British literature and history.
The Culture of Christina Rossetti explores a “new” Christina Rossetti as she emerges from the scrutiny of the particular historical and cultural context in which she lived and wrote. The essays in this collection demonstrate how the recluse, saint, and renunciatory spinster of former studies was in fact an active participant in her society’s attempt to grapple with new developments in aesthetics, theology, science, economics, and politics.The
Detective fiction is usually thought of as genre fiction, a vast group of works bound together by their use of a common formula. But, as Peter Thoms argues in his investigation of some of the most important texts in the development of detective fiction in the nineteenth century, the very works that establish the genre’s formulaic structure also subvert that structure.
This, Professor Roth’s third annotated bibliography of studies on Jane Austen, covers the years 1984–1994. Like the critically acclaimed earlier volumes, it charts the steady growth and enrichment of literary criticism of Austen in the second half of the twentieth century. The first bibliography, which covered the period 1952–1972, contained 794 items; the second, which treated 1973–1983, included over 1,060 pieces; this third work has 1,327 entries.
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.
Slavery fascinated Thackeray. For him, the essence of slavery consisted of treating people like things. Thomas examines relationships in Thackeray’s fiction in which people have been reduced to objects and power is an end. These relationships include not only actual slaves and blacks, but also servants, dependents of all races, upper-class women sold into marriage, and children struggling to escape parental domination.Thomas also clarifies Thackeray’s view of black slavery.
Long neglected by the academic world because of her rejection of belletristic values and resistance to convenient literary taxonomy, Doris Lessing has nonetheless built an international following of serious, dedicated readers.
The variety of Browning’s poetry has made it difficult to see his work as a canon rather than merely a collection. The Elusive Self takes issue with the opinion that Browning’s art is diffuse and argues instead for a unity born of his interest in man’s acts of introspection.The author observes in Browning’s idiosyncratic style and sense of time an adaptation of Romantic notions of spontaneity.
Based on an enormous body of short fiction, Elegant Nightmares is a study of the ghost story in England from Sheridan Le Fanu to more recent figures such as Algernon Blackwood and L.P. Hartley.Although Elegant Nightmares is a serious exploration of ghost and horror stories as prototypes of modern absurdist fiction, it is written in an entertaining, often witty style.