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Theories of nature and nurture in Victorian sensation fiction
Author: Helena Ifill

This book explores the range of ways in which the two leading sensation authors of the 1860s, Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Wilkie Collins, engaged with nineteenth-century ideas about how the personality is formed and the extent to which it can be influenced either by the subject or by others.

Innovative readings of Braddon’s and Collins’s sensation novels – some of them canonical, others less well-known – demonstrate how they reflect, employ, and challenge Victorian theories of heredity, degeneration, willpower, inherent constitution, education, insanity, upbringing and social circumstance. Far from presenting a reductive depiction of ‘nature’ versus ‘nurture’, Braddon and Collins show the creation of character to be a complex interplay of internal and external factors that are as much reliant on chance as on the efforts of the people who try to exert control over an individual’s development. Their works raise challenging questions about responsibility and self-determinism and, as the analyses of these texts reveals, demonstrate an acute awareness that the way in which character formation is understood fundamentally influences the way people (both in fiction and reality) are perceived, judged and treated.

Drawing on material from a variety of genres, including Victorian medical textbooks, scientific and sociological treatises, specialist and popular periodical literature, Creating character shows how sensation authors situated themselves at the intersections of established and developing, conservative and radical, learned and sensationalist thought about how identity could be made and modified.

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Helena Ifill

This chapter returns to the topic of monomania. Hester Dethridge develops homicidal urges after murdering her abusive husband. Collins emphatically draws attention to the circumstances which lead to Hester’s mental condition in order to fulfil the main purpose of the novel, highlighting the dangers of the British marriage laws which disadvantage women. The novel’s secondary purpose is the disparagement of what Collins perceived as a harmful national obsession with physical prowess. The upper-class villain, Geoffrey Delamayn, has been raised to prize his physicality over intellectual and moral development, and as a result he is little more than a bestial thug. The final part of the chapter shows how Collins makes use of the strange and improbable coincidences that are a staple of sensation fiction. Rather than playing down such moments, Collins emphasises ‘the capricious mercy of Chance’ and uses it as a way of revealing the influence of unforeseen circumstances on his characters and their development. Overall this chapter shows that Collins depicts human beings with little capacity for agency, personal responsibility or self-determinism; seeming acts of free will are really the result of external influences (social, legal, educational and circumstantial), and can only ever be short-sighted.

in Creating character

Screening the Hollywood Rebels in 1950s Britain explores the relationship between classic American films about juvenile delinquency and British popular youth culture in the mid-twentieth century. The book examines the censorship, publicity and fandom surrounding such Hollywood films as The Wild One, Blackboard Jungle, Rebel Without a Cause, Rock Around the Clock and Jailhouse Rock alongside such British films as The Blue Lamp, Spare the Rod and Serious Charge. Intersecting with star studies and social and cultural history, this is the first book to re-vision the stardom surrounding three extraordinarily influential Hollywood stars: Marlon Brando, James Dean and Elvis Presley. By looking specifically at the meanings of these American stars to British fans, this analysis provides a logical and sustained narrative that explains how and why these Hollywood images fed into, and disrupted, British cultural life. Screening the Hollywood Rebels in 1950s Britain is based upon a wide range of sources including censorship records, both mainstream and trade newspapers and periodicals, archival accounts and memoirs, as well as the films themselves. The book is a timely intervention of film culture and focuses on key questions about screen violence and censorship, masculinity and transnational stardom, method acting and performance, Americanisation and popular post-war British culture. The book is essential reading for researchers, academics and students of film and social and cultural history, alongside general readers interested in the links between the media and popular youth culture in the 1950s.

Contested terrains
Mícheál Ó hAodha

teleological impetus, one where the narrative is celebrated in a utopian realisation of Self, one which assumes the end of the anti-colonial struggle and a triumphant self-determinism. One of the drawbacks of this teleological impetus, however, is the stasis which accompanies the culmination of discourse; the self/other split remains, a historical legacy which is re-established through the elision of those narratives and expressions of identity which are liminal, hybrid or in-between. These energies frequently challenge those apparently indefatigable configurations which are

in ‘Insubordinate Irish’
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Trish Winter and Simon Keegan-Phipps

the indigeneity (or indigenousness) of a group or individual for legal purposes (see, for instance, Waldron, 2003), whilst that adopted by athropologists originates with a desire to understand the meaning of indigenousness as it relates to the lives of those who identify themselves – or are identified by others – as being indigenous (e.g. Shaw, Herman and Dobbs, 2006). The two approaches are, of course, at opposite ends of a spectrum, along which midway junctures such as the matter of individual and group self-determinism can be plotted (e.g. Bennett, 2005; Canessa

in Performing Englishness
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Rob Stone

reinscription of Francoist values. When María José steps outside the privileges of melodrama and assumes the proactive self-determinism of the femme fatale , her decision to sacrifice Juan for the sake of her marriage effectively reinstates the priorities of decorum and the family unit in the genre of melodrama which is analogous to the dominant Francoist Catholicism. Even though María José has violated Francoist law and Catholic

in European film noir
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Helena Ifill

desirable emotions. The degree of self-​determinism a person possessed was therefore reliant on the strength and cultivation of the willpower: ‘in proportion as [a person] acquires the power of self-​control, does he become capable of emancipating himself from the domination of his automatic tendencies, and of turning his faculties to the most advantageous use’ (Carpenter, ‘Physiology’, pp. 207–​8). Whilst the key to personal development was self-​control, Carpenter saw insanity as characterised by ‘a partial or complete deficiency in the Volitional control over the

in Creating character
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Helena Ifill

suitor Walsingham ‘at his command, being utterly incapable to resist the influence of a stronger mind than her own, had she not been restrained by the counter influence of her aunt [who wishes her to marry Reginald], which, from the force of long habit, was more powerful still’ (pp. 15–​16). These depictions of Claribel as the product of “nature” consolidated by “nurture” leave little room for self-​determinism, which 100 101 The Lady Lisle sets the tone for much of what follows in The Lady Lisle; they also, however, suggest that in The Lady Lisle outward signs will

in Creating character
Ingi Iusmen

(Grugel and Iusmen, 2013), by framing child rights measures as part of the AFSJ. Child rights stakeholders have also been extremely critical in relation to the priority areas in EU child rights policy (EU Agenda) as part of the Stockholm Programme. For instance, there is an unbalanced focus on Europe of justice and Europe of protection, rather than Europe of rights, as the objectives in the Agenda suggest. Indeed, the Commission seems to prioritize a focus on children’s protectionism at the expense of children’s self-determinism. Certain policy issues, such as those

in Children’s rights, Eastern enlargement and the EU human rights regime
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Temporal dissonance and narrative voice
Caitlin Flynn

we, not satisfied with what is mediocre, may aspire to what is loftiest, and may apply ourselves with all our strength in that pursuit, for we shall succeed if we are so minded.’ 3 This more general commentary on man’s self-determinism complements the specific commentaries on the role of the poet in Landino and Ficino. Strikingly, Douglas’s fraught exploration of poetic identity and destiny at many points reflects these humanist conceptions of autonomy, identity, and poetics. In her seminal study of Gavin

in The narrative grotesque in medieval Scottish poetry