Come Buy, Come Buy — 2008

Shopping and the Culture of Consumption in Victorian Women’s Writing

By Krista Lysack

“Krista Lysack’s Come Buy, Come Buy provides an origi­nal, revisionary approach to the study of British women’s writing, and its explication of the relationships among consumer culture, identity and citizenship makes an important contribution to nineteenth-century scholarship.”

Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, author of Christina Rossetti and Illustration: A Publishing History

”Lysack’s shopping woman escapes commonplace Victorian notions of woman’s desire to buy as dangerous, as demanding regulation or self-regulation.… Lysack…advances our thinking about nineteenth-century female agency.”

Studies in English Literature

“Krista Lysack’s Come Buy, Come Buy is a deft, compact, and polished consideration of (mainly middle class) female shopping as a literary and cultural theme in the Victorian period.”

Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature

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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. Come Buy, Come Buy considers representations of the female shopper in British women’s writing and demonstrates how women’s shopping practices are materialized as forms of narrative, poetic, and cultural inscription, showing how women writers emphasize consumerism as productive of pleasure rather than the condition of seduction or loss. Krista Lysack examines works by Christina Rossetti, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, George Eliot, and Michael Field, as well as the suffragette newspaper Votes for Women, in order to challenge the dominant construction of Victorian femininity as characterized by self-renunciation and the regulation of appetite.

Come Buy, Come Buy considers not only literary works, but also a variety of archival sources (shopping guides, women’s fashion magazines, household management guides, newspapers, and advertisements) and cultural practices (department store shopping, shoplifting and kleptomania, domestic economy, and suffragette shopkeeping). With this wealth of sources, Lysack traces a genealogy of the woman shopper from dissident domestic spender to aesthetic connoisseur, from curious shop-gazer to political radical.

Krista Lysack teaches in the department of English at the University of Western Ontario. Her articles have appeared in such journals as Victorian Poetry, Nineteenth-Century Contexts, and SEL.

Cover of 'Come Buy, Come Buy'

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