In the early 1800s, books were largely unillustrated. By the 1830s and 1840s, however, innovations in wood- and steel-engraving techniques changed how Victorian readers consumed and conceptualized fiction. A new type of novel was born, often published in serial form, one that melded text and image as partners in meaning-making.
Late nineteenth-century Britain experienced an unprecedented explosion of visual print culture and a simultaneous rise in literacy across social classes. New printing technologies facilitated quick and cheap dissemination of images—illustrated books, periodicals, cartoons, comics, and ephemera—to a mass readership. This Victorian visual turn prefigured the present-day impact of the Internet on how images are produced and shared, both driving and reflecting the visual culture of its time.
Grounded in literary studies and spanning the Americas, India, England, and Scotland, this book explores the relationship between economic concepts and culture in the period, focusing on how economic tropes were abstracted into other discourses in fields as diverse as evolutionary science, business, or literary narrative.
In Reading for Health: Medical Narratives and the Nineteenth-Century Novel, Erika Wright argues that the emphasis in Victorian Studies on disease as the primary source of narrative conflict that must be resolved has obscured the complex reading practices that emerge around the concept of health.
Katherine D. Harris assesses the phenomenal rise of the literary annual and its origins in English, German, and French literary forms as well as its social influence on women, its redefinition of the feminine, and its effects on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century print culture.
In The Victorian Novel of Adulthood, Rebecca Rainof confronts the conventional deference accorded the bildungsroman as the ultimate plot model and quintessential expression of Victorian nation building. The novel of maturity, she contends, is no less important to our understanding of narrative, Victorian culture, and the possibilities of fiction.
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.
In nineteenth-century London, a clubbable man was a fortunate man, indeed. The Reform, the Athenaeum, the Travellers, the Carlton, the United Service are just a few of the gentlemen’s clubs that formed the exclusive preserve known as “clubland” in Victorian London—the City of Clubs that arose during the Golden Age of Clubs. Why were these associations for men only such a powerful emergent institution in nineteenth-century London?
If nineteenth-century Britain witnessed the rise of medical professionalism, it also witnessed rampant quackery. It is tempting to categorize historical practices as either orthodox or quack, but what did these terms really signify in medical and public circles at the time? How did they develop and evolve? What do they tell us about actual medical practices?
In Poetry, Pictures, and Popular Publishing eminent Rossetti scholar Lorraine Janzen Kooistra demonstrates the cultural centrality of a neglected artifact: the Victorian illustrated gift book. Turning a critical lens on “drawing-room books” as both material objects and historical events, Kooistra reveals how the gift book’s visual/verbal form mediated “high” and popular art as well as book and periodical publication.
Across the nineteenth century, meter mattered—in more ways and to more people than we might well appreciate today. For the period’s poets, metrical matters were a source of inspiration and often vehement debate. And the many readers, teachers, and pupils encountered meter and related topics in both institutional and popular forms.
Dancing out of Line transports readers back to the 1840s, when the craze for social and stage dancing forced Victorians into a complex relationship with the moving body in its most voluble, volatile form.
Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture: The Making of a Legend explores the meteoric rise, sudden fall, and legendary resurgence of an immensely influential writer’s reputation from his hectic 1881 American lecture tour to recent Hollywood adaptations of his dramas. Always renowned—if not notorious—for his fashionable persona, Wilde courted celebrity at an early age. Later, he came to prominence as one of the most talented essayists and fiction writers of his time.
Cleansing the City: Sanitary Geographies in Victorian London explores not only the challenges faced by reformers as they strove to clean up an increasingly filthy city but the resistance to their efforts. Beginning in the 1830s, reform-minded citizens, under the banner of sanitary improvement, plunged into London’s dark and dirty spaces and returned with the material they needed to promote public health legislation and magnificent projects of sanitary engineering.
When Margaret Thatcher called in 1979 for a return to Victorian values such as hard work, self-reliance, thrift, and national pride, Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock responded that “Victorian values” also included “cruelty, misery, drudgery, squalor, and ignorance.” The Victorians in the Rearview Mirror is an in-depth look at the ways that the twentieth century reacted to and reimagined its predecessor.
Book and Periodical Studies
Comics and Graphic Novel Culture
Literary Criticism, Africa
Literary Criticism, Caribbean
Literary Criticism, Eastern Europe
Literary Criticism, France
Literary Criticism, Latin America
Literary Criticism, Poetry
Literary Criticism, Theater
Literary Criticism, US