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Over a century after the death of Queen Victoria, historians are busy re-appraising her age and achievements. However, our understanding of the Victorian era is itself a part of history, shaped by changing political, cultural and intellectual fashions. Bringing together a group of international scholars from the disciplines of history, English literature, art history and cultural studies, this book identifies and assesses the principal influences on twentieth-century attitudes towards the Victorians. Developments in academia, popular culture, public history and the internet are covered in this important and stimulating collection, and the final chapters anticipate future global trends in interpretations of the Victorian era, making an essential volume for students of Victorian Studies.
A major study of changing attitudes to the Victorians, from Lytton Strachey to the present day. >
"Suppose that everything we think we know about the Victorians is wrong." So begins Inventing the Victorians by Matthew Sweet, a compact and mind-bending whirlwind tour through the soul of the nineteenth century, and a round debunking of our assumptions about it. The Victorians have been victims of the "the enormous condescension of posterity," in the historian E. P. Thompson's phrase. Locked in the drawing room, theirs was an age when, supposedly, existence was stultifying, dank, and over-furnished, and when behavior conformed so rigorously to proprieties that the repressed results put Freud into business. We think we have the Victorians pegged--as self-righteous, imperialist, racist, materialist, hypocritical and, worst of all, earnest. Oh how wrong we are, argues Matthew Sweet in this highly entertaining, provocative, and illuminating look at our great, and great-great, grandparents. One hundred years after Queen Victoria's death, Sweet forces us to think again about her century, entombed in our minds by Dickens, the Elephant Man, Sweeney Todd, and by images of unfettered capitalism and grinding poverty. Sweet believes not only that we're wrong about the Victorians but profoundly indebted to them. In ways we have been slow to acknowledge, their age and our own remain closely intertwined. The Victorians invented the theme park, the shopping mall, the movies, the penny arcade, the roller coaster, the crime novel, and the sensational newspaper story. Sweet also argues that our twenty-first century smugness about how far we have evolved is misplaced. The Victorians were less racist than we are, less religious, less violent, and less intolerant. Far from being an outcast, Oscar Wilde was a fairly typical Victorian man; the love that dared not speak its name was declared itself fairly openly. In 1868 the first international cricket match was played between an English team and an Australian team composed entirely of aborigines. The Victorians loved sensation, novelty, scandal, weekend getaways, and the latest conveniences (by 1869, there were image-capable telegraphs; in 1873 a store had a machine that dispensed milk to after-hours' shoppers). Does all this sound familiar? As Sweet proves in this fascinating, eye-opening book, the reflection we find in the mirror of the nineteenth century is our own. We inhabit buildings built by the Victorians; some of us use their sewer system and ride on the railways they built. We dismiss them because they are the age against whom we have defined our own. In brilliant style, Inventing the Victorians shows how much we have been missing.
A discussion of the Victorians and their literature. It sets out the political, social and economic framework of the period, and then goes on to study the various influences on the novel, addresses the forms and styles of poetry and, finally, provides an overview of Victorian drama. Each chapter features a further reading list and there is a comparative time-line, a biographical glossary and a list of websites. The volume is part of a series which sets writers and literary works of different types and periods in their historical, social and cultural context and provides an introduction to various genres.
This book examines the life-cycle of Victorian working-class marriage through a study of the hitherto hidden marital bed. Using coroners’ inquests to gain intimate access to the working-class home and its inhabitants, this book explores their marital, quasi-marital, and post-marital beds to reveal the material, domestic, and emotional experience of working-class marriage during everyday life and at times of crisis. Drawing on the recent approach of utilising domestic objects to explore interpersonal relationships, the marital bed not only provides a rereading of the experiences of the working-class wife but also brings the much maligned or simply overlooked working-class husband into the picture. Moreover, it also extends our understanding of the various marriage-like arrangements existing throughout this class. Moving through the marital life-cycle, this book provides a greater understanding of marriages from the outset, during childbirth, at times of strife and marital breakdown, and upon the death of a spouse.
People, not abstract ideas, make history, and nowhere is this more revealed than in A. N. Wilson's superb portrait of the Victorians, in which hundreds of different lives have been pieced together to tell a story - one which is still unfinished in our own day. The 'global village' is a Victorian village and many of the ideas we take for granted, for good or ill, originated with these extraordinary, self-confident people. What really animated their spirit, and how did they remake the world in their view? In an entertaining and often dramatic narrative, A. N. Wilson shows us remarkable people in the very act of creating the Victorian age.
A wide-ranging exploration of the complex and often conflicting discourse on photography in the nineteenth century, Framing the Victorians traces various descriptions of photography as art, science, magic, testimony, proof, document, record, illusion, and diagnosis. Victorian photography, argues Jennifer Green-Lewis, inspired such universal fascination that even two so self-consciously opposed schools as positivist realism and metaphysical romance claimed it as their own. Photography thus became at once the symbol of the inadequacy of nineteenth-century empiricism and the proof of its totalizing vision. Green-Lewis juxtaposes textual descriptions with pictorial representations of a diverse array of cultural activities from war and law enforcement to novel writing and psychiatry. She compares, for example, the exhibition of Roger Fenton's Crimean War photographs (1855) with W. H. Russell's written accounts of the war published in the Times of London (1884 and 1886). Nineteenth-century photography, she maintains, must be reread in the context of Victorian written texts from and against which it developed. Green-Lewis also draws on works by Thomas Hardy, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry James, as well as published writing by Victorian photographers, in support of her view that photography provides an invaluable model for understanding the act of writing itself. We cannot talk about realism in the nineteenth century without talking about visuality, claims Green-Lewis, and Framing the Victorians explores the connections.

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