The Centre for Victorian Studies

The Nineteenth Century Series

Co-edited by Associate Professor Julian North and Professor Joanne Shattock, both of the Centre for Victorian Studies, this monograph of Nineteenth Century Series is published by Routledge.


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Lives of the Sonnet, 1787-1895: Genre, Gender and Criticism

  • Marianne Van Remoortel, Ghent University, Belgium, 2011

Tracing the development of the sonnet during intense moments of change and stability, continuity and conflict, from the early Romantic period to the end of the 19th century, Marianne Van Remoortel pays particular attention to the role of the popular press. As she highlights the intricately related issues of genre and gender, Van Remoortel offers readers innovative readings of sonnet sequences by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Meredith, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Augusta Webster.

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Women and Personal Property in the Victorian Novel

  • Deborah Wynne, English Department, University of Chester, 2010

How key changes to the married women's property laws contributed to new ways of viewing women in society are revealed in Deborah Wynne's study of literary representations of women and portable property during the period 1850 to 1900. 

While critical explorations of Victorian women's connections to the material world have tended to focus on their relationships to commodity culture, Wynne argues that modern paradigms of consumerism cannot be applied across the board to the Victorian period. Until the passing of the 1882 Married Women's Property Act, many women lacked full property rights; evidence suggests that, for women, objects often functioned not as disposable consumer products but as cherished personal property.

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Literary Theology by Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century

  • Rebecca Styler, University of Lincoln, 2010

Examining popular fiction, life writing, poetry and political works, Rebecca Styler explores women's contributions to theology in the 19th century. Female writers, Styler argues, acted as amateur theologians by use of a range of literary genres. Through these, they questioned the Christian tradition relative to contemporary concerns about political ethics, gender identity, and personal meaning.

Among Styler's subjects are novels by Emma Worboise; writers of collective biography, including Anna Jameson and Clara Balfour, who study Bible women in order to address contemporary concerns about 'The Woman Question'; poetry by Anne Bronte; and political writing by Harriet Martineau and Josephine Butler.

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Women Reviewing Women in Nineteenth-Century Britain: The Critical Reception of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot

  • Joanne Wilkes, University of Auckland, New Zealand, 2010

Focusing particularly on the critical reception of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot, Joanne Wilkes offers in-depth examinations of reviews by eight female critics: Maria Jane Jewsbury, Sara Coleridge, Hannah Lawrance, Jane Williams, Julia Kavanagh, Anne Mozley, Margaret Oliphant and Mary Augusta Ward. What they wrote about women writers, and what their writings tell us about the critics' own sense of themselves as women writers, reveals the distinctive character of 19th-century women's contributions to literary history.

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Intellectual Politics and Cultural Conflict in the Romantic Period: Scottish Whigs, English Radicals and the Making of the British Public Sphere

  • Alex Benchimol, University of Glasgow, 2010

Benchimol maps the intellectual formation of English plebeian radicalism and Scottish philosophic Whiggism over the long 18th century, and examines their associated strategies of critical engagement with the cultural, social and political crises of the early 19th century. It is a story of the making of a wider British public sphere out of the agendas and discourses of the radical and liberal publics that both shaped and responded to them. When juxtaposed, these competing intellectual formations illustrate two important expressions of cultural politics in the Romantic period, as well as the peculiar overlapping of national cultural histories that contributed to the ideological conflict over the public meaning of Britain's industrial modernity. 

Alex Benchimol's study provides an original contribution to recent scholarship in Romantic period studies centred around the public sphere, recovering the contemporary debates and national cultural histories that together made up a significant part of the ideological landscape of the British public sphere in the early 19th century.

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Women's Diaries as Narrative in the Nineteenth-Century Novel

  • Catherine Delafield, University of Leicester, 2009

Using private diary-writing as her model, Catherine Delafield investigates the cultural significance of 19th-century women's writing and reading practices. Beginning with an examination of non-fictional diaries and the practice of diary-writing, she assesses the interaction between the fictional diary and other forms of literary production such as epistolary narrative, the periodical, the factual document and sensation fiction.

The discrepancies between the private diary and its use as a narrative device are explored through the writings of Frances Burney, Elizabeth Gaskell, Anne Brontë, Dinah Craik, Wilkie Collins and Bram Stoker. The ideological function of the diary, Delafield suggests, produces a conflict in fictional narrative between that diary's received use as a domestic and spiritual record and its authority as a life-writing opportunity for women. 

Delafield considers women as writers, readers and subjects, and contextualises her analysis within 19th-century reading practice. She demonstrates ways in which women could becomes performers of their own story through a narrative method which was authorised by their femininity and at the same time allowed them to challenge the myth of domestic womanhood.

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