Module convenor: Tara Puri (email@example.com)
Office hour: Thursday 4.00 - 5.00, in Room 3, Institute of Advanced Study, Millburn House
The Victorians’ fascination with the increasingly opulent and diverse material culture of their time has become a central concern for the field of Victorian studies, particularly in the last decade. In keeping with this ‘material turn’, we will focus on the numerous, seemingly trivial objects that populate the writing of the period, existing on the fringes of the reader’s consciousness. The module attempts to explore the dynamic ways in which subjects and objects merge, become metonyms of each other, and find themselves materially transformed through this exchange. We will examine a wide range of literary and cultural concepts, and consider the porous boundaries between Victorian subjects and objects, as well as the category of ‘thing’ – following Bill Brown’s notion of the ‘thing’ as an intermediary between subject and object. The aim of the module is to investigate how these artefacts contribute to an understanding Victorian literature and culture. While literature is the dominant focus of the module, we will also look at some paintings, literary illustrations and fashion plates from women’s magazines.
Karl Marx, ‘The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof’, from Capital (1867), Vol I, Part I, Chapter 1, Section 4: Marx-Commodity-Fetishism.pdf
Victoria Mills, ‘Introduction: Victorian Fiction and the Material Imagination’, 19 6 (2008): Mills-Material-Imagination.pdf
Augustus Egg’s paintings A young lady at her dressing table (1850s) and the series Past and Present
Elaine Freedgood, The Ideas in Things: Fugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel, Chapter 2.
Thomas Richards, The Commodity Culture of Victorian England: Advertising and Spectacle, 1851-1914, Chapter 1.
Isobel Armstrong, Victorian Glassworlds: Glass Culture and the Imagination 1830-1880, p. 141-166.
Suzanne Daly, The Empire Inside: Indian Commodities in Victorian Domestic Novels, Chapter 3.
Tennyson’s ‘The Ringlet’
Christina Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market’
Selected letters from the correspondence between Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Krista Lysack, Come Buy, Come Buy: Shopping and the Culture of Consumption in Victorian Women’s Writing, Chapter 2.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s painting Lady Lilith.
Briggs, Asa, Victorian Things, Penguin, 1988.
Brown, Bill, ‘Thing Theory’, Critical Inquiry, Vol. 28, No. 1, Things, 2001, pp. 1 - 22.
Burman, Barbara, and Carole Turbin, eds., Material Strategies: Dress and Gender in Historical Perspective, Blackwell Publishers, 2003.
Candlin, Fiona and Raiford Guins, eds., The Object Reader, Routledge, 2009.
Cohen, Deborah, Household Gods: The British and their Possessions, Yale University Press, 2006.
Cohen, William A., Embodied: Victorian Literature and the Senses, University of Minnesota Press, 2009.
Daly, Suzanne, The Empire Inside: Indian Commodities in Victorian Domestic Novels, The University of Michigan Press, 2011.
Freedgood, Elaine, The Ideas in Things: Fugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel, The University of Chicago Press, 2006.
Fromer, Julie E., A Necessary Luxury: Tea in Victorian England, Ohio University Press, 2008.
Gilbert, Pamela K., Disease, Desire, and the Body in Victorian Women’s Popular Novels, Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Gitter, Elizabeth G., ‘The Power of Women’s Hair in the Victorian Imagination’, PMLA, Vol. 99, No. 5, 1984, pp. 936 - 954.
Lysack, Krista, Come Buy, Come Buy: Shopping and the Culture of Consumption in Victorian Women’s Writing, Ohio University Press, 2008.
McClintock, Anne, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Context, Routledge, 1995.
Miller, Andrew H., Novels Behind Glass: Commodity Culture and Victorian Narrative, Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Nead, Lynda, Victorian Babylon: People, Streets and Images in Nineteenth-Century London, Yale University Press, 2000.
Plotz, John, Portable Property: Victorian Culture on the Move, Princeton University Press, 2009.