By Julia Thomas
“With a keen eye for significant detail, the author proves herself a meticulous, sensitive, circumspect, and convincing reader of the pictures she treats and of their relation to the texts or cultural phenomena they illustrate.”
James A. W. Heffernan, author of Museum of Words: The Poetics of Ekphrasis from Homer to Ashbery
The Victorians were image obsessed. The middle decades of the nineteenth century saw an unprecedented growth in the picture industry. Technological advances enabled the Victorians to adorn with images the pages of their books and the walls of their homes. But this was not a wholly visual culture. Pictorial Victorians focuses on two of the most popular mid-nineteenth-century genres—illustration and narrative painting—that blurred the line between the visual and textual.
Illustration negotiated text and image on the printed page, while narrative painting juxtaposed the two media in its formulation of pictorial stories. Author Julia Thomas reassesses mid-nineteenth-century values in the light of this interplay. The dialogue between word and image generates meanings that are intimately related to the Victorians’ image of themselves. Illustrations in Victorian publications and the narrative scenes that lined the walls of the Royal Academy reveal the Victorians’ ideas about the world in which they lived and their notions of gender, class, and race.
Pictorial Victorians surveys a range of material, from representations of the crinoline, to the illustrations that accompanied Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Tennyson’s poetry, to paintings of adultery. It demonstrates that the space between text and image is one in which values are both constructed and questioned.
Julia Thomas is a lecturer at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory, Cardiff University, Wales, UK. She is the author of Victorian Narrative Painting and the editor of Reading Images. More info →
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Release date: October 2004
240 pages · 7 × 10 in.
Release date: October 2004
Ruskin’s Mythic Queen
Gender Subversion in Victorian Culture
By Sharon Aronofsky Weltman
John Ruskin’s prominence as the author of “Of Queen’s Gardens,” his principal statement of Victorian gender opposition, makes him an ideal example for analyzing the power of mythic discourse to undermine gender division. Here, Ruskin creates a vision of feminine authority that draws simultaneously upon several sources (including the goddess Athena and Queen Victoria herself) to empower women in a worldwide arena redefined as a broader version of their domestic realm.
British Literature · Women’s Studies · Literary Criticism · Literature · Victorian Studies
Women, Work, and Representation
Needlewomen in Victorian Art and Literature
By Lynn M. Alexander
In Victorian England, virtually all women were taught to sew; needlework was allied with images of domestic economy and with traditional female roles of wife and mother- with home rather than factory. The professional seamstress, however, labored long hours for very small wages creating gowns for the upper and middle classes.
Literary Criticism, Women · Literary Criticism | European | English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh · Women’s History · Women’s Studies · Literature · Victorian Studies
Poetry, Pictures, and Popular Publishing
The Illustrated Gift Book and Victorian Visual Culture, 1855–1875
By Lorraine Janzen Kooistra
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.A
Literary Criticism | European | English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh · Victorian Studies · Book and Periodical Studies
Drawing on the Victorians
The Palimpsest of Victorian and Neo-Victorian Graphic Texts
Edited by Anna Maria Jones and Rebecca N. Mitchell
· Afterword by Kate Flint
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.From
Literary Criticism | European | English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh · Comics and Graphic Novel Culture · Victorian Studies