The Archive and Ornament

Simon Reader (University if Toronto) This post accompanies Simon Reader’s Journal of Victorian Culture article published (2013). It can be read in full here. “But I fall into the lace of the text, the vellum; caught there, I contemplate my masters.” Lisa Robertson, Nillings Manuscript collections may be usefully regarded as ornaments adorning the literary canon. They strike me as a kind of lace bordering otherwise functional clothing. For one thing, getting to the artifacts can be costly. Sitting with Oscar Wilde’s notebooks

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Will the Real Esther Price Please Stand Up? Archival Fiction & The Mill

By Catherine Feely Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire, the setting and subject of Channel 4’s drama The Mill, holds a privileged place in my early historical training. My mother remembers that when I was a child, bored stiff by country houses when my parents invested in membership to the National Trust in the 1980s, a trip to the cotton mill could always be counted on to stop me moaning. (My father half-jokes that he has spent all of his adult

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Walking the Corridors of the Past: A tour of Singleton Abbey

Lucinda Matthews-Jones (Liverpool John Moores University) In a recent blog for History Workshop Online, Toby Butler suggests that field trips should become ‘an essential part of the…university curriculum’, noting that ‘[s]urely no history degree taught in a city could not find a place for a visit to a museum or a historic site, and perhaps a talk from a curator?’ I agree with Toby. As university teachers, I believe we should be thinking of imaginative ways to teach our modules

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Encountering the Fin-de-Siècle: Utilising Archives for Undergraduate Teaching

Dr Sarah Parker (University of Birmingham) Never judge a book by its cover. Clearly the late-Victorians didn’t hold much by this adage, or we would not have inherited so many stunning examples of book design from the fin-de-siècle period. As critics such as Nicholas Frankel and Joseph Bristow have emphasised, one of the central goals of the aesthetic and decadent movements was to produce the ‘beautiful book’ as an objet d’art in its own right. John Gray’s Silverpoints (1893), for

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