Hysteria and Victorian Women in Art

In ancient Greece there existed the medical concept of a woman’s “wandering womb”; that is, the womb could move about the body, obstruct breathing and press on other organs to cause various symptoms of illness. It was “an animal within an animal”, according to the celebrated ancient Greek physician Aretaeus of Cappadocia. In the late nineteenth century, the notable French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot began his study of unusual physiological symptoms presenting in women, such as nervous anxiety, faintness, irritability, uncontrolled

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Picturing the Angel Outside the Home

When one pictures Victorian advertising, a fairly consistent image springs to mind: that of trade cards depicting corset-clad white women alongside their respectable husbands and cherubic children. These advertisements are intended to ensnare the morally sensible “angel of the house,” and persuade her that a particular brand of soap or soup or other household product is guaranteed to enrich her family’s wholesome lifestyle. But the Victorian era also gave rise to two earth-shaking consumer products that were intended to transport

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Sarojini Naidu, Cultural Exchange and Anti-Imperialism

Sarojini Naidu was a nineteenth century poet and political activist. Her upbringing was, in a sense, privileged because she was born into a middle-class family of well-educated Brahmins. Her father was a scientist and her mother a Bengali poet, so she also had strong literary ties. This gave her the space and opportunity to write and develop her English poetry and yet this was not the sum of her ambition. She used her connections, English education and social standing to

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Helen Kingstone: Women are aliens! Radical feminism and contemporary-history-writing in the work of Alice Stopford Green

This post accompanies Helen Kingstone’s Journal of Victorian Culture article: ‘Feminism, Nationalism, Separatism? The Case of Alice Stopford Green’. This article can be downloaded here. For several years now, I’ve been tussling with a troublesome question: how do you write contemporary history? Luckily, perhaps, I haven’t had to do it myself, but instead have been looking at how Victorian writers approached the challenge. Because it is a challenge. How do you write a history (conventionally a generalising, singular, even grand

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Roller Derby’s Victorian Prehistory

By Susan Cook (Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, NH) Roller derby was not a Victorian sport. But it should have been. Today roller skating is typically thought of as a twentieth-century fad, but historians trace its origins back to the eighteenth century. Although the Dutch began using roller skates in the early 1700s, the Belgian inventor Joseph Merlin made the most memorable early impression on the new sport by skating into a masquerade party in 1760 whilst playing the violin.

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Book review: Amy Levy’s Fate: Death and the Statistician

The Women Who Dared: A Biography of Amy Levy, by Christine Pullen, Kingston upon Thames: Kingston University Press, 2010, 241 pp., illustrated, ₤20 (paperback), ISBN 978 1 899999 43 9 Reviewed by Theodore M. Porter, University of California, Los Angeles The narrative trajectory of this biography begins and ends with the suicide of the writer Amy Levy at the age of 27 on 9 September 1889.  That tragic end gives direction to Christine Pullen’s wide-ranging study of Levy and her

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Susan Schuyler, ‘Crowds, Fenianism, and the Victorian Stage’

In her essay forthcoming in JVC issue 16.2, Susan Schuyler analyzes two Irish rebellion-themed plays in context of the growth of Fenianism in the months preceding the Clerkenwell explosion. The melodramatic dramas Oonagh; or the Lovers of Lisnamona (Her Majesty’s, 1866) and Achora Machree; or Gems of Ould Ireland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1867) reveal the ways that popular theatre participated in a wider public discussion about what was seen as the modern phenomenon of the crowd. Produced on the eve of one

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Book Reviews (15.1)

Jacky Bratton on Jennifer Hall-Wit’s Fashionable Acts: Opera and Elite Culture in London, 1780-1880 (Durham, New Hampshire: University of New Hampshire Press, 2007). To read the full review, visit http://www.informaworld.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=1355%2d5502&volume=15&issue=1&spage=164. Charlotte Mitchell on Gavin Budge’s Charlotte M. Yonge: Religion, Feminism and Realism in the Victorian Novel (Oxford, Bern & Peter Lang, 2007). To read the full review, visit http://www.informaworld.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=1355%2d5502&volume=15&issue=1&spage=158. Donna Loftus on James Taylor’s Creating Capitalism. Joint-Stock Enterprise in British Politics and Culture 1800-1870 (Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Royal Historical Society

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