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Rethinking reception in Victorian literary culture

Dante Beyond Influence provides the first systematic inquiry into the formation of the British critical and scholarly discourse on Dante in the late nineteenth century (1865–1921). Overcoming the primacy of literary influence and intertextuality, it instead historicises and conceptualises the hermeneutic turn in British reception history as the product of major transformations in Victorian intellectual, social and publishing history.

The volume unpacks the phenomenology of Victorian dantismo through the analysis of five case studies and the material examination of a newly discovered body of manuscript and print sources. Extending over a sixty-year long period, the book retraces the sophistication of the Victorian modes of readerly and writerly engagement with Dantean textuality. It charts its outward expression as a public criticism circulating in prominent nineteenth-century periodicals and elucidates its wider popularisation (and commodification) through Victorian mass-publishing. It ultimately brings forth the mechanism that led to the specialisation of the scholarly discourse and the academisation of Dante studies in traditional and extramural universities. Drawing on the new disciplines of book history and history of reading, the author provides unprecedented insight into the private intellectual life and public work of Christina Rossetti, Matthew Arnold, William E. Gladstone, and introduces a significant cohort of Dante critics, scholars and learned societies hitherto passed unnoticed.

As it recaptures a long-neglected moment in Dante’s reception history, this path-breaking book illuminates the wider socio-cultural and economic impact that the Victorian hermeneutic turn had in advancing women’s access to literary and scholarly professions, educational reform and discipline formation.

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Feeling modern and visually aware in the nineteenth century

Madrid on the move is a full-length monograph on illustrated print culture and the urban experience in nineteenth-century Spain. It provides a fresh account of modernity by looking beyond its canonical texts, artworks, and locations and exploring what being modern meant to people in their daily lives. The nineteenth century marked a crucial moment for cities across the West. Urbanisation, technological innovations, and the development of a mass culture yielded new forms of spectatorship and experiencing city life. Madrid underwent these processes just as many other European capitals did, and, as a result, the effects of urban and social change were at the heart of the growing number of circulating images and texts. Rather than shifting the loci of modernity from Paris or London to Madrid, this book decentres the concept and explains the modern experience as part of a more fluid, wider phenomenon. Meanings of the modern were not only dictated by linguistic authorities and urban technocrats; they were discussed, lived, and constructed on a daily basis. Cultural actors and audiences continuously redefined what being modern entailed and explored the links between the local and the global, two concepts and contexts that were being conceived and perceived as inseparable. Across images and printed media – from illustrated magazines, caricatures, and postcards to journalistic writing, guidebooks, and maps – what surfaced was an acute awareness of the demands of modernisation and a feeling of forming part of (whether half-heartedly or with conviction) an increasingly entangled world.

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Maverick Victorian Cartoonist

Marie Duval: Maverick Victorian cartoonist offers the first critical appraisal of the work of Marie Duval (Isabelle Émilie de Tessier [1847–90]), one of the most unusual, pioneering and visionary cartoonists of the later nineteenth century.

Taking a critical theory approach, the book discusses key themes and practices of Duval’s vision and production, relative to the wider historic social, cultural and economic environments in which her work was made, distributed and read. It identifies Duval as an exemplary radical practitioner in an urban media environment, in which new professional definitions were being created, and in which new congruence between performance, illustration, narrative drawing and novels emerged. The book divides into two sections: Work and Depicting and Performing, interrogating the relationships between the developing practices and the developing forms of the visual cultures of print, story-telling, drawing and stage performance. On one hand, the book focuses on the creation of new types of work by women and gendered questions of authorship in the attribution of work, and on the other, the book highlights the style of Duval’s drawings relative to both the visual conventions of theatre production and the significance of the visualisation of amateurism and vulgarity. The book pays critical attention to Duval the practitioner and to her work, establishing her as a unique but exemplary figure in the foundational development of a culture of print, visualisation and narrative drawing in English, in a transformational period of the nineteenth century.

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The omnibus and urban culture in nineteenth-century Paris
Author: Masha Belenky

Engine of Modernity: The Omnibus and Urban Culture in Nineteenth-Century Paris examines the connection between public transportation and popular culture in nineteenth-century Paris through a focus on the omnibus - a horse-drawn vehicle for mass urban transport which enabled contact across lines of class and gender. A major advancement in urban locomotion, the omnibus generated innovations in social practices by compelling passengers of diverse backgrounds to interact within the vehicle’s close confines. Although the omnibus itself did not actually have an engine, its arrival on the streets of Paris and in the pages of popular literature acted as a motor for a fundamental cultural shift in how people thought about the city, its social life, and its artistic representations. At the intersection of literary criticism and cultural history, Engine of Modernity argues that for nineteenth-century French writers and artists, the omnibus was much more than a mode of transportation. It became a metaphor through which to explore evolving social dynamics of class and gender, meditate on the meaning of progress and change, and reflect on one’s own literary and artistic practices.

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Writing social engagement 1880–1921

This volume is the first to bring together research on the life and work of the author, activist, and traveller Margaret Harkness, who wrote under the pseudonym ‘John Law’. The collection contextualises Harkness’s political project of observing and recording the lives and priorities of the working classes and urban poor alongside the broader efforts of philanthropists, political campaigners, journalists, and novelists who sought to bring the plight of marginalised communities to light at the end of the nineteenth century. It argues for a recognition of Harkness’s importance in providing testimony to the social and political crises that led to the emergence of British socialism and labour politics during this period. This collection includes considerations of Harkness’s work in London’s East End at the end of the nineteenth century, but moves into the twentieth century and beyond Britain’s borders to examine the significance of her global travel for the purpose of investigating international political trends. This collection gives substance to women’s social engagement and political involvement in a period prior to their formal enfranchisement, and offers insight into the ways this effected shifts in literary style and subject. In offering a detailed picture of Harkness’s own life and illuminating the lives and work of her contemporaries, this volume enriches critical understanding of the complex and dynamic world of the long nineteenth century.

Literary discussions on nature, culture and science
Author: Silvia Granata

This book explores the vogue for home aquaria that spread through Great Britain around the middle of the nineteenth century. The marine tank, perfected and commercialised in the early 1850s, was advertised as a marvel of modernity, a source of endless entertainment and a tool providing useful and edifying knowledge; it was meant to surprise, bringing a profoundly unfamiliar experience right to the heart of the home and providing a vista on the submarine world, at the time still largely unknown. Thanks to an interdisciplinary approach, this book offers an example of how the study of a specific object can be used to address a broad spectrum of issues: the Victorian home tank became in fact a site of intersection between scientific, technological, and cultural trends; it engaged with issues of class, gender, nationality and inter-species relations, drawing together home décor and ideals of domesticity, travel and tourism, exciting discoveries in marine biology, and emerging tensions between competing views of science; due to the close connection between tank keeping and seaside studies, it also marked an important moment in the development of a burgeoning environmental awareness. Through the analysis of a wide range of sources, including aquarium manuals, articles in the periodical press and fictional works, The Victorian aquarium unearths the historical significance of a resonant object, arguing that, for Victorians, the home tank was both a mirror and a window: it opened views on the underwater world, while reflecting the knowledge, assumptions, and preoccupations of its owners.

New essays on experiences of culture and society

Over the past quarter of a century, the study of nineteenth-century Hispanic culture and society has undergone two major shifts. The first was a rejection of 'the myth of backwardness', a notion that these cultures and societies were exceptions that trailed behind the wider West.. The second trend was a critical focus on a core triad of nation, gender and representation. This volume of essays provides a strong focus for the exploration and stimulation of substantial new areas of inquiry. The shared concern is with how members of the cultural and intellectual elite in the nineteenth century conceived or undertook major activities that shaped their lives. The volume looks at how people did things without necessarily framing questions of motive or incentive in terms that would bring the debate back to a master system of gender, racial, ethnographic, or national proportions. It reviews some key temporal dilemmas faced by a range of nineteenth-century Spanish writers. The volume explores how they employed a series of narrative and rhetorical techniques to articulate the consequent complexities. It also looks at how a number of religious figures negotiated the relationship between politics and religion in nineteenth-century Spain. The volume concentrates on a spectrum of writings and practices within popular literature that reflect on good and bad conduct in Spain through the nineteenth century. Among other topics, it provides information on how to be a man, be a writer for the press, a cultural entrepreneur, an intellectual, and a colonial soldier.

A sourcebook
Editor: Jonathon Shears

This book, a collection of essays, presents new interpretations of one of the most significant exhibitions in the nineteenth century. It exposes how meaning has been produced around the Great Exhibition held at the Crystal Palace. The book contains a series of critical readings of the official and popular historical record of the Exhibition. The 'Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations', as it was initially referred to, was the product of a number of issues. The first is the liberal shift in politics of the 1830s that popularised laissez-faire attitudes to manufacture and enterprise. The second is the need to address Britain's position as an economic power and moral arbiter in post-Napoleonic Europe. The third is the fortunate incidents that occurred in the 1840s to bring together the men who would shape the venture. Mass production, as much as artisanship, was showcased at the Exhibition and much of the rhetoric of the Official Catalogue concerned the way mechanisation could save time, expense and labour. The fear of ethnic and cultural difference was rampant in Exhibition literature. The presence of women at the Exhibition raised gender issues such as being objectified and the threat of being 'seen'. Increased concern for the welfare of the working classes is one dominant motif of political which the organisers of the Great Exhibition could not avoid engaging. The book portrays the determined use of industrial knowledge, definitions of nation and colony, and the control of the Crystal Palace after the Great Exhibition closed.