Sunday, December 29, 2013

Habit in the English Novel, 1850-1900: Lived Environments, Practices of the Self

By Sean O'Toole

The ancient philosophical concept of habit fixated and unsettled the Victorians in profoundly new ways, as advances in physiology and evolutionary theory sparked far-reaching debates about the threat of automatism and the proper mental training of the will. This book suggests that nineteenth-century novelists not only echoed these debates but intervened in them in unique, transformative, and strikingly modern ways. In attending closely to the enabling, generative potential of habit and its role in the creation of new perceptions and social identities, novelists from Dickens to James bequeathed a far more complex conception of the category than has yet been acknowledged, allowing for a rich phenomenology of the unpredictable, changeable modes of modern existence. Habit in the English Novel rethinks the relationship between nineteenth-century fiction and sciences of the mind, and reconsiders what we have come to assume about the Victorian novel, including our own critical habits, in the wake of Freud and cultural modernism.

"This fascinating study explores how changing attitudes to habit in the latter part of the nineteenth century had profound fictional and theoretical implications. Habit in the English Novel, 1850-1900 includes some striking and original analysis of nineteenth-century literature, and alerts us to the complexity and profound significance of an apparently ordinary and ubiquitous human trait. This is an important book, which raises key questions about the relationship between literature and psychology, and casts new light on familiar material."--Jenny Bourne Taylor, University of Sussex, UK

Available for purchase from Amazon or Palgrave.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Anglophone Indian Women Writers, 1870-1920

By Ellen Brinks

Ellen Brinks examines the Anglophone literary works of Toru Dutt, Krupabai Satthianadhan, Pandita Ramabai, Cornelia Sorabji, and Saroini Naidu, women deeply rooted in and connected to both South Asian and British cultures who found large audiences in the West and in India in their public roles as writers, reformers, activists, and cultural translators. The received narrative that British imperialism in India was perpetuated with little or no cultural contact between the colonizers and the colonized population is complicated by all five women's professional and personal lives.

Brinks’s close readings of these texts suggest new ways of reading a range of issues central to nineteenth-century transnational and postcolonial studies: the relationship of colonized women to the metropolitan (literary) culture; Indian and English women’s separate and joint engagements in reformist and nationalist struggles; the “translatability” of culture; the articulation strategies and complex negotiations of self-identification of Anglophone Indian women writers; and the significance and place of cultural difference. Informed by extensive archival research, Brinks’s close readings of their works suggest new ways of understanding late nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century English-language literary history, women's history, and the history of empire.

Available through Ashgate

Sunday, November 10, 2013

After Darwin: Animals, Emotions, and the Mind

Edited by Angelique Richardson

“What is emotion?” pondered the young Charles Darwin in his notebooks. How were the emotions to be placed in an evolutionary framework? And what light might they shed on human-animal continuities? These were among the questions Darwin explored in his research, assisted both by an acute sense of observation and an extraordinary capacity for fellow feeling, not only with humans but with all animal life. After Darwin: Animals, Emotions, and the Mind explores questions of mind, emotion and the moral sense which Darwin opened up through his research on the physical expression of emotions and the human–animal relation. It also examines the extent to which Darwin’s ideas were taken up by Victorian writers and popular culture, from George Eliot to the Daily News. Bringing together scholars from biology, literature, history, psychology, psychiatry and paediatrics, the volume provides an invaluable reassessment of Darwin’s contribution to a new understanding of the moral sense and emotional life, and considers the urgent scientific and ethical implications of his ideas today.

Copies are available for purchase through Rodopi and Amazon

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wilkie Collins and Copyright: Artistic Ownership in the Age of the Borderless Word

By Sundeep Bisla

In the works and letters of his later years, Wilkie Collins continually expressed his displeasure over copyright violations. Wilkie Collins and Copyright: Artistic Ownership in the Age of the Borderless Word by Sundeep Bisla asks whether that discontent might not also have affected the composition of Collins’s major early works of the 1850s and 60s. Bisla’s investigation into this question, surprisingly, does not find an uncomplicated author uncomplicatedly launched on a defense of what he believes to be rightfully his. Instead, Bisla finds an author locked in fierce negotiation with the theoretical underpinnings of his medium, the written word, underpinnings best delineated by the twentieth-century deconstructionist Jacques Derrida. Collins’s discomfort with copyright violation comes to be in tension with his budding understanding of the paradoxical nature of the “iterability” of the word, a nature presenting itself as a conflict between the settling and breaking manifestations of linguistic repetition. In his efforts at resolving this paradox, Collins adopts a mechanism of recursive self-reflexivity through which each story reflects upon itself to a more fundamental extent than had its predecessor. This self-reflexive exploration has significant consequences for the author’s own iterability-menaced subjectivity, a striking example of which can be seen in the fact that the name being sought in Collins’s last masterpiece, The Moonstone, will end up being “MY OWN NAME”—in other words, “WILKIE COLLINS.”

Wilkie Collins and Copyright is an elegant, intelligent, and impressive work. It is certain to be considered an important, perhaps even classic, Collins study. Sundeep Bisla is an impeccable researcher and beautiful writer. He provides a fresh interpretation of Collins as a novelist whose highly self-conscious efforts to manipulate language are set against the background of the particular material conditions for Victorian authorship, especially those governing copyright.” —Lauren M. E. Goodlad, author of The Victorian Geopolitical Aesthetic: Realism, Sovereignty and Transnational Experience.

Available for purchase from Amazon and Ohio State University Press

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

States of Emergency: Essays on Culture and Politics

By Patrick Brantlinger 

In his latest book, Patrick Brantlinger probes the state of contemporary America. Brantlinger takes aim at neoliberal economists, the Tea Party movement, gun culture, immigration, waste value, surplus people, the war on terror, technological determinism, and globalization. An invigorating return to classic cultural studies with its concern for social justice and challenges to economic orthodoxy, States of Emergency is a delightful mix of journalism, satire, and theory that addresses many of the most pressing issues of our time.

States of Emergency consists of twelve essays ranging from top-down class conflict in the U.S. to immigration (“What’s the Matter with Mexico?”) to the war on terror to unemployment and homelessness among veterans (“Army Surplus”) to the World Social Forum.  Brantlinger’s focus is on social justice; he explores, for example, how and why societies exclude certain segments of their populations from full rights and recognition, sometimes to the extent of deeming them “surplus” populations worthy only of extermination.  Five of the essays were invited contributions to journals or to other people’s anthologies.  These include “Shooters,” about the Virginia Tech massacre, invited for the inaugural issue of the on-line South Korean journal Situations, and “Shopping on Red Alert:  The Rhetorical Normalization of Terror,” which first appeared in Iraq War Culture, edited by Cynthia Fuchs and Joe Lockard.  The essay on the Tea Party ends with a short, dramatic excursion to Wonderland, and “The State of Iraq” is Brantlinger’s attempt to out-Twain Mark Twain.  The volume’s title comes from Walter Benjamin:  “The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule.”

States of Emergency is available for purchase at Indian University Press and Amazon

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Darwin's Bards: British and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution

By John Holmes

Newly available in paperback, Darwin’s Bards is the first comprehensive study of how poets have responded to the ideas of Charles Darwin in over fifty years. John Holmes argues that poetry can have a profound impact on how we think and feel about the Darwinian condition. Is a Darwinian universe necessarily a godless one? What is our own place in the Darwinian universe, and our ecological role here on Earth? How does our kinship with other animals affect how we see them and ourselves?

Holmes explores the ways in which some of the most perceptive and powerful British and American poets of the last hundred-and-fifty years have grappled with these questions, from Alfred Tennyson and Robert Browning, through Thomas Hardy and Robert Frost, to Ted Hughes, Thom Gunn, Amy Clampitt and Edwin Morgan. Including over fifty poems and substantial extracts from many more, Darwin’s Bards gives us the chance to experience for ourselves what it can mean to live in a Darwinian world.

“Darwin’s Bards is a bracing, original and exciting contribution to our understanding and appreciation of the cultural impact of Darwinism; indeed, John Holmes is to be commended for writing an exhilarating and genuinely interdisciplinary study with revealing insights on every page.” – Roger Ebbatson, The Thomas Hardy Journal

Available on Amazon and Edinburgh University Press

Moving Images: Nineteenth-Century Reading and Screen Practices (Edinburgh Critical Studies in Victorian Literature)

By Helen Groth

This book examines how the productive interplay between nineteenth-century literary and visual media paralleled the emergence of a modern psychological understanding of the ways in which reading, viewing and dreaming generate moving images in the mind. Reading between these parallel histories of mind and media reveals a dynamic conceptual, aesthetic and technological engagement with the moving image that, in turn, produces a new understanding of the production and circulation of the work of key nineteenth-century writers, such as Lord Byron, Walter Scott, Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray. As Helen Groth shows, this engagement is both typical of the nineteenth-century in its preoccupation with questions of automatism and volition (unconscious and conscious thought), spirit and materiality, art and machine, but also definitively modern in its secular articulation of the instructive and entertaining applications of making images move both inside and outside the mind.

Key Features
  • Considers the impact of the dramatic transformations in print and visual culture on our understanding of the production, circulation and mediation of works by Byron, Scott, Thackeray, Carroll, Dickens, Mayhew and James, as well as lesser-known writers such as Ann and Jane Taylor, Pierce Egan, Countess Blessington, and George Sims
  • Provides a new perspective on the conventional opposition of the early cinema of attractions to the immersive absorption of both nineteenth-century literary formations and later classical narrative cinema

Purchase on Amazon

William Maginn and the British Press: A Critical Biography

By David E. Latané,

The first scholarly treatment of the life of William Maginn (1794-1842), David Latané’s meticulously researched biography follows Maginn’s life from his early days in Ireland through his career in Paris and London as political journalist and writer and finally to his sad decline and incarceration in debtor’s prison. A founding editor of the daily Standard (1827), Maginn was a prodigal author and editor. He was an early and influential contributor to Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, and a writer from the Tory side for The Age, New Times, English Gentleman, Representative, John Bull, and many other papers. In 1830, he launched Fraser’s Magazine for Town and Country, the early venue for such Victorians as Thackeray and Carlyle, and he was intimately involved with the poet 'L.E.L.' In 1837, he wrote the prologue for the first issue of Bentley’s Miscellany, edited by Dickens. Through painstaking archival research into Maginn’s surviving letters and manuscripts, as well as those of his associates, Latané restores Maginn to his proper place in the history of nineteenth-century print culture. His book is essential reading for nineteenth-century scholars, historians of the book and periodical, and anyone interested in questions of authorship in the period.

Purchase at Ashgate

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Women, Infanticide and the Press, 1822–1922: News Narratives in England and Australia

By Nicola Goc

In her study of anonymous infanticide news stories that appeared from 1822 to 1922 in the heart of the British Empire, in regional Leicester, and in the penal colony of Australia, Nicola Goc uses Critical Discourse Analysis to reveal both the broader patterns and the particular rhetorical strategies journalists used to report on young women who killed their babies. Her study takes Foucault’s perspective that the production of knowledge, of 'facts' and truth claims, and the exercise of power, are inextricably connected to discourse. Newspaper discourses provide a way to investigate the discursive practices that brought the nineteenth-century infanticidal woman - known as ‘the Infanticide’ - into being. The actions of the infanticidal mother were understood as a fundamental threat to society, not only because they subverted the ideal of Victorian womanhood but also because a woman’s actions destroyed a man’s lineage. For these reasons, Goc demonstrates, infanticide narratives were politicised in the press and woven into interconnected narratives about the regulation of women, women's rights, the family, the law, welfare, and medicine that dominated nineteenth-century discourse. For example, the Times used individual stories of infanticide to argue against the Bastardy Clause in the Poor Law that denied unmarried women and their children relief. Infanticide narratives often adopted the conventions of the courtroom drama, with the young transgressive female positioned against a body of male authoritarian figures, a juxtaposition that reinforced male authority over women. Alive to the marked differences between various types of newspapers, Goc's study offers a rich and nuanced discussion of the Victorian press's fascination with infanticide. At the same time, infanticide news stories shaped how women who killed their babies were known and understood in ways that pathologised their actions. This, in turn, influenced medical, judicial, and welfare policies regarding the crime of infanticide and created an acceptable context for how society viewed these women. Alive to the marked differences between various types of newspapers, Goc's study offers a rich and nuanced discussion of the Victorian press's fascination with infanticide.

Purchase at Ashgate

Friday, August 23, 2013

Landscape and Literature 1830-1914: Nature, Text, Aura

By Roger Ebbatson

This study offers an exciting new perspective on a range of literary texts of the 19th and early 20th centuries, exploring their vital but problematic depiction of nature. It offers the reader seminal re-readings of a variety of texts, notably Tennyson, Hardy, Jefferies and Edward Thomas, by placing their work in an original and illuminating cultural context. Framed by reference to a range of philosophical ideas, notably the Frankfurt School concept of 'aura', but also the Heideggerian reading of the 'destitution' wrought by technology, and the phenomenological concept of 'immersion' in the natural environment, this book will be of interest to both the student of literature, ecology and philosophy.

Order online at Palgrave 

Friday, July 26, 2013

NAVSA Book Prize - Heart Beats: Everyday Life and the Memorized Poem

The North American Victorian Studies Association is very pleased to announce Catherine Robson’s Heart Beats: Everyday Life and the Memorized Poem as the winner of the first NAVSA Book Prize award.

About the book:

Many people in Great Britain and the United States can recall elderly relatives who remembered long stretches of verse learned at school decades earlier, yet most of us were never required to recite in class. Heart Beats is the first book to examine how poetry recitation came to assume a central place in past curricular programs, and to investigate when and why the once-mandatory exercise declined. Telling the story of a lost pedagogical practice and its wide-ranging effects on two sides of the Atlantic, Catherine Robson explores how recitation altered the ordinary people who committed poems to heart, and changed the worlds in which they lived.

Heart Beats begins by investigating recitation's progress within British and American public educational systems over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and weighs the factors that influenced which poems were most frequently assigned. Robson then scrutinizes the recitational fortunes of three short works that were once classroom classics: Felicia Hemans's "Casabianca," Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," and Charles Wolfe's "Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna." To conclude, the book considers W. E. Henley's "Invictus" and Rudyard Kipling's "If--," asking why the idea of the memorized poem arouses such different responses in the United States and Great Britain today.

Focusing on vital connections between poems, individuals, and their communities, Heart Beats is an important study of the history and power of memorized poetry.

"Heart Beats is a work of passionate intelligence—sensitive to issues of class and to the place of recitation in the disciplining of minds and bodies, but at the same time open to the idea that verse memorization can liberate and shape social practices for the better." —John O. Jordan, University of California, Santa Cruz

"Robson's history of memorized poetry is impressive in every way: imaginatively conceived and massively researched, it holds important implications for the way we teach and read." —Leah Price, Harvard University

"This innovative book gives an institutional history of memorizing poetry in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century schools, and provides an account of the psychological effects of this practice in the lives of students who memorized. A key scholarly book in the field, this book is a winner." —Linda Peterson, Yale University

Purchase from Princeton

BRANCH: Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History, 1775-1925

Editor: Dino Franco Felluga

BRANCH has just published the most recent set of essays, making the total word count of BRANCH now close to 500,000 words. The most recent additions are as follows: 
Sean Grass offers up BRANCH's first entry on the death of an individual as event. Deborah Nord and Linda Shires offer up articles on art history while Phyllis Weliver provides us with a first BRANCH entry on music. Linda Shires' piece is a companion to her earlier BRANCH article on George Field's Chromatography of 1835. Karen Weisman examines the significance of the lesser known poets Marion and Celia Moss. And Sharon Aranofsky Weltman's piece joins a series of BRANCH articles on theater and theatricality, including previous articles by Ellen Malenas Ledoux, Renata Kobetts Miller, and Angela Esterhammer.

Visit website.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Postal Plots in British Fiction, 1840-1898: Readdressing Correspondence in Victorian Literature

By Laura Rotunno 

By 1840, the epistolary novel was dead. Letters in Victorian fiction, however, were unmistakably alive. By examining a variety of works from authors including Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle, Postal Plots addresses why. It explores how Victorian postal reforms encouraged the lower and middle classes to read and write, allowed them some social and political agency, and led many to literature. The writers born of postal reforms increased stratification between Victorian novelists, already struggling to define themselves as literary professionals. The reform-inspired readers threatened the novelists' development by flouting distinctions between high and low literature. Letters in Victorian novels thus become markers of the novelists' concerns about the hierarchies and mediocrities that threatened Victorian fiction's artistic progress and social contribution. Postal Plots explores Victorian literary professionals' conflict between their support for liberal ideals in the literary marketplace and their fear that they would be unable to bring those changes to pass.

Purchase through Amazon or Palgrave 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Reading Victorian Deafness

By Jennifer Esmail

Reading Victorian Deafness is the first book to address the crucial role that deaf people, and their unique language of signs, played in Victorian culture. Drawing on a range of works, from fiction by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, to poetry by deaf poets and life writing by deaf memoirists Harriet Martineau and John Kitto, to scientific treatises by Alexander Graham Bell and Francis Galton, Reading Victorian Deafness argues that deaf people’s language use was a public, influential, and contentious issue in Victorian Britain.

The Victorians understood signed languages in multiple, and often contradictory, ways: they were objects of fascination and revulsion, were of scientific import and literary interest, and were considered both a unique mode of human communication and a vestige of a bestial heritage. Over the course of the nineteenth century, deaf people were increasingly stripped of their linguistic and cultural rights by a widespread pedagogical and cultural movement known as “oralism,” comprising mainly hearing educators, physicians, and parents.

Engaging with a group of human beings who used signs instead of speech challenged the Victorian understanding of humans as “the speaking animal” and the widespread understanding of “language” as a product of the voice. It is here that Reading Victorian Deafness offers substantial contributions to the fields of Victorian studies and disability studies. This book expands current scholarly conversations around orality, textuality, and sound while demonstrating how understandings of disability contributed to Victorian constructions of normalcy. Reading Victorian Deafness argues that deaf people were used as material test subjects for the Victorian process of understanding human language and, by extension, the definition of the human.

“Jennifer Esmail has written the definitive work on deafness and language in Victorian England. But beyond that she has contributed immeasurably to our understanding of the way that language, spoken and written, was understood in that era culturally, politically, and socially. Since language was so central to the Victorians, this book opens a window not only on deafness but the larger Victorian culture as well.”
                Lennard Davis — Department of English, University of Illinois at Chicago

“An extensively and assiduously researched study of Victorian Deafness as a multi-layered cultural entity … Reading Victorian Deafness makes a groundbreaking contribution to Disability Studies at large and Victorianist Disability Studies specifically.”
                Martha Stoddard Holmes — Author of Fictions of Affliction: Physical Disability in Victorian Culture 

“Jennifer Esmail’s superb study establishes her as a name to be reckoned with in the developing field of disability studies, and in Victorian cultural and literary scholarship more generally. Her exploration of deafness illuminates how Victorians  understood the senses, language, perception, and expressiveness. More than this, however, it is an important book about what it means to be human, and to possess the desire to communicate.”
                Kate Flint — Provost Professor of English and Art History at the University of Southern California, and author of The Victorians and the Visual Imagination

“As literary criticism has broadened to encompass aspects of sensory history, innovative scholarship continues to illuminate connections between overlooked texts and embodied experience. Jennifer Esmail’s wide-ranging examination of Victorian deaf communities not only joins but also extends this endeavor. Her important, compelling book works at the junction of disability studies, sound studies, and English studies to alter conventional understandings of what it meant to communicate in the nineteenth century.”
                John Picker — Comparative Media Studies and Literature, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author of Victorian Soundscapes

Purchase from Ohio University Press  and Amazon 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Henry James, Impressionism, and the Public

By Daniel Hannah

 Proposing a new approach to Jamesian aesthetics, Daniel Hannah examines the complicated relationship between Henry James's impressionism and his handling of 'the public.' Hannah challenges solely phenomenological or pictorial accounts of literary impressionism, instead foregrounding James's treatment of the word 'impression' as a mediatory unit that both resists and accommodates invasive publicity. Thus even as he envisages a breakdown between public and private at the end of the nineteenth century, James registers that breakdown not only as a threat but also as an opportunity for aesthetic gain. Beginning with a reading of 'The Art of Fiction' as both a public-forming essay and an aesthetic manifesto, Hannah's study examines James's responses to painterly impressionism and to aestheticism, and offers original readings of What Maisie Knew, The Wings of the Dove, and The American Scene that treat James's articulation of impressionism in relation to the child, the future of the novel, and shifts in the American national imaginary. Hannah's study persuasively argues that throughout his career James returns to impressionability not only as a site of immense vulnerability in an age of rapid change but also as a crucible for reshaping, challenging, and adapting to the public sphere’s shifting forms.

'Focusing on the tendency in Impressionism to trouble distinctions between the public and the private, Daniel Hannah’s sophisticated and compelling book opens up broad new views of much that makes Henry James’s writing meaningful and much that has yet to be seen in the problem of Impressionism.'
--Jesse E. Matz, Kenyon College, USA

Purchase from Ashgate

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Women’s Ghost Literature in Nineteenth-Century Britain

By Melissa Edmundson Makala

Throughout nineteenth-century Britain, female writers excelled within the genre of supernatural literature. Much of their short fiction and poetry uses ghosts as figures to symbolize the problems of gender, class, economics, and imperialism, thus making their supernatural literature something more than just a good scare. Nineteenth-century ghost literature by women shows the Gothic becoming more experimental and subversive as its writers abandoned the stereotypical Gothic heroines of the past in order to create more realistic, middle-class characters (both living and dead, male and female) who rage against the limits imposed on them by the natural world. The ghosts of Female Gothic thereby become reflections of the social, sexual, economic, and racial troubles of the living. Expanding the parameters of Female Gothic and moving it into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries allows us to recognize women’s ghost literature as a specific strain of the Female Gothic that began not with Ann Radcliffe, but with the Romantic Gothic ballads of women in the first decade of the nineteenth century. Women’s Ghost Literature in Nineteenth-Century Britain recovers and analyzes for a new audience this “social supernatural” ghost literature, as well as the lives and literary careers of the women who wrote it.

“This groundbreaking study makes a persuasive case that nineteenth-century women authors wrote ghosts into their fiction and poetry not just in order to entertain but also as a vehicle for social criticism. Through the figure of the ghost, they drew attention to religious, gender, and class-based inequality within British society, and to the human costs of empire and the industrial revolution.”
– Paula Feldman, University of South Carolina

University of Wales Press
Purchase from Amazon or Chicago UP .

Friday, May 17, 2013

Transatlantic Spectacles of Race: The Tragic Mulatta and the Tragic Muse

By Kimberly Snyder Manganelli 
The tragic mulatta was a stock figure in nineteenth-century American literature, an attractive mixed-race woman who became a casualty of the color line. The tragic muse was an equally familiar figure in Victorian British culture, an exotic and alluring Jewish actress whose profession placed her alongside the “fallen woman.”

In Transatlantic Spectacles of Race, Kimberly Manganelli argues that the tragic mulatta and tragic muse, who have heretofore been read separately, must be understood as two sides of the same phenomenon. In both cases, the eroticized and racialized female body is put on public display, as a highly enticing commodity in the nineteenth-century marketplace. Tracing these figures through American, British, and French literature and culture, Manganelli constructs a host of surprising literary genealogies, from Zelica to Daniel Deronda, from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Lady Audley’s Secret. Bringing together an impressive array of cultural texts that includes novels, melodramas, travel narratives, diaries, and illustrations, Transatlantic Spectacles of Race reveals the value of transcending literary, national, and racial boundaries.

"An engaging, rich, and provocative work that re-directs 'mixed-race' studies back to its complex archival and historical roots, Manganelli’s book challenges readers to consider the deeply imbricated, transnational production of 19th century racial and gender mythologies."
—Daphne Brooks, Princeton University

"Manganelli's clear, engaging writing will captivate readers of nineteenth and early twentieth-century British and American literature. This book provides a powerful and lucid model for scholars and students interested in transatlantic work."
—Cherene Sherrard-Johnson, author of Portraits of the New Negro Woman

Purchase at Amazon.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

19: Interdisciplinary Studies In The Long Nineteenth Century 16 (2013): W. T. Stead: Newspaper Revolutionary

Guest edited by  Laurel Brake and James Mussell

When W. T. Stead died on the Titanic he was the most famous Englishman on board. He was one of the inventors of the modern tabloid. His advocacy of ‘government by journalism’ helped launch military campaigns. His exposé of child prostitution raised the age of consent to sixteen, yet his investigative journalism got him thrown in jail. A mass of contradictions and a crucial figure in the history of the British press, Stead was a towering presence in the cultural life of late-Victorian and Edwardian society. This special issue of 19, guest edited by Laurel Brake and James Mussell, celebrates Stead’s life and legacy in all its diversity 101 years on. 
  • Laurel Brake, James Mussell: ‘Introduction’
  • Graham Law, Matthew Sterenberg: ‘Old v. New Journalism and the Public Sphere; or, Habermas Encounters Dallas and Stead’
  • Lucy Delap, Maria DiCenzo: ‘“No one pretends he was faultless”: W. T. Stead and the Women’s Movement’
  • Stéphanie Prévost: ‘W. T. Stead and the Eastern Question (1875-1911); or, How to Rouse England and Why?’
  • Tom Lockwood: ‘W. T. Stead’s ‘Penny Poets’: Beyond Baylen’
  • Paul Horn: ‘“Two Minds With but a Single Thought”: W. T. Stead, Henry James, and the Zancig Controversy’
  • Sarah Crofton: ‘“Julia Says”: The Spirit-Writing and Editorial Mediumship of W. T. Stead’
  • Marysa Demoor: ‘When the King Becomes your Personal Enemy: W. T. Stead, King Leopold II, and the Congo Free State’
  • Tom Gretton: ‘From La Méduse to the Titanic: Géricault’s Raft in Journalistic Illustration up to 1912
The new issue of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century is now available at

A Feminist Reader: Feminist Thought from Sappho to Satrapi, 4 vol.

Edited by Sharon M. Harris and Linda K. Hughes

Deliberately global in scope, this 1900-page edited anthology places feminist writing by Anglo-American authors in dialogue with French, German, Italian, Mexican, Brazilian, African, Japanese, Egyptian, Indian, Australian, and Iranian feminist writings.  It also features multiple genres, such as letters and poems in addition to essays, dialogues, manifestas, and a concluding excerpt from a graphic novel, opening new possibilities for the study of genre and feminist discourse.  Each text features an editorial headnote and annotation, while the general introduction sets feminism in its historical and global contexts.

The Victorian writers represented in the collection include Caroline Norton, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Florence Nightingale, Mary Seacole, John Stuart Mill, Helen Taylor, Emily Davies, Frances Power Cobbe, Josephine Butler, Sophia Jex-Blake, Augusta Webster, Edith Simcox, Mona Caird, Amy Levy, Olive Schreiner, Dollie Radford, Sarah Grand, Nora Hopper, Alice Meynell, Vernon Lee, and Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy.

Purchase from Amazon or Cambridge UP.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Common Precedents: The Presentness of the Past in Victorian Law and Fiction

By Ayelet Ben-Yishai

Common Precedents maintains that precedent constitutes a sophisticated and powerful mechanism for managing social and cultural change. Reading major novels by George Eliot, Anthony Trollope, and Wilkie Collins, this analysis of law and literature shows that precedential reasoning enjoyed widespread cultural significance in the nineteenth-century as a means of preserving a sense of common history, values, and interests in the face of a new heterogeneous society. An in-depth analysis of Victorian law reports argues that precedential reasoning enables the recognition of the new and its assimilation as part of a continuous past. The binding force of precedent, which ties judges to decisions made by their predecessors, also functions as the binding element of an always shifting commonality, pulling it together in the face of rupture and dispersion.

By appearing to bring the past seamlessly into the present, the form of legal precedent became material. It was vital to the preservation of a sense of commonality and continuity crucial to the common law and Victorian legal culture. But the impact of precedent extended beyond legal practices and institutions to the culture at large, and especially to its fiction. Ben-Yishai's monograph argues that understanding the structure of precedent also explains fictional form: how fictionality works, its epistemology, and the ways in which its commonalities are socially constructed, maintained, and reified. Common Precedents thus presents a cultural history of the forms of precedent and an intricate study of the formation of social convention.

  • Reveals how precedential reasoning as a strategy for managing change produced innovations in legal and fictional writing
  • Identifies precedential reasoning as the fundamental epistemological paradigm employed by Victorians
  • Brings together a rare combination of considerable legal and literary knowledge

"Common Precedents is a fascinating study of the form and substance of the formation of social convention. It's lucid, informative, and offers some truly brilliant readings." –Elaine Freedgood, author of The Ideas in Things: Fugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel

Purchase from Amazon or Oxford UP

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Are We There Yet? Virtual Travel and Victorian Realism

By Alison Byerly

Are We There Yet? Virtual Travel and Victorian Realism connects the Victorian fascination with "virtual travel" with the rise of realism in nineteenth-century fiction and twenty-first-century experiments in virtual reality. Even as the expansion of river and railway networks in the nineteenth century made travel easier than ever before, staying at home and fantasizing about travel turned into a favorite pastime. New ways of representing place—360-degree panoramas, foldout river maps, exhaustive railway guides—offered themselves as substitutes for actual travel. Thinking of these representations as a form of "virtual travel" reveals a surprising continuity between the Victorian fascination with imaginative dislocation and twenty-first -century efforts to use digital technology to expand the physical boundaries of the self.

Byerly’s work is unusual in approaching a Victorian phenomenon through the lens of contemporary conceptualizations of media and its effects. Other critics who have applied current theories about media to nineteenth century cultural forms have generally focused on the social or economic dimensions of these forms in order to examine topics like representations of empire, ideas about gender, or the development of consumer culture. This book places cultural studies into dialogue with an aesthetics that is re-energized by engagement with contemporary debates about virtual reality.  It is a foundational work in the emerging field of Victorian media studies.

"Byerly is chock-full of new materials brought into view through a fresh perspective straightforwardly grounded in the network-computer concerns of our present. It feels both intuitively right and brilliant."—Jonathan H. Grossman, University of California, Los Angeles, author of Charles Dickens’s Networks