Sexualizing Narratives: Layered Scopophilia in Tess of the d’Urbervilles and the Female Reader

Header image: 1891 illustration from Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, by Joseph Syddall. “Why so often the coarse appropriates the finer thus,” comments the narrator of Tess of the d’Urbervilles following Tess Durbeyfield’s fateful encounter with Alec d’Urbervilles at the Chase.[1] The exploration of sexuality within Victorian culture and literature, especially female sexuality, is extensive; Michel Foucault’s first volume of The History of Sexuality (1976), Nancy Armstrong’s Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel (1987), Christopher

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‘Dear Boss, I am staying in Manchester at present’: Regional Jack the Ripper Letters and Northern Representation

‘Dear Boss, I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled.’ [1] [2] Scribbled in red ink, these sentences marked the first of several letters attributed to the serial killer known as

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‘Morphinomania’: Morphine use in three Edwardian novels

To be young, socially privileged, and in love; such is the happy situation of Felix Wilding, the euphonious hero of Robert Hichens’s 1902 novel. The object of Felix’s adoration is socially prominent Valeria Ismey, who is the more attractive for being older and married; this after all is the 1900s, and Victorianism, represented by Felix’s loving, ineffectual mother, is in retreat. No: Mrs. Ismey’s problem – one evident to the reader before it is to Felix – is her hopeless

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Lady Clementina Hawarden: the silhouette motif in photographic art

1st June 2022 marked the bicentenary of the birth of pioneering photographer Clementina Hawarden (1822-1865), one of the most significant women to contribute to early photography. In this blog I highlight a specific genre within the extensive Hawarden photographic collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, concentrating on use of the silhouette as a stylistic motif in her photographic portraiture. Viscountess Clementina Hawarden, née Fleeming, left an extensive oeuvre of collodion photographic images marking her brief embrace of the

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“That tree gives me the creeps!”: Tales of Vampiric Plants

Readers of Gothic literature will quickly recognize that Irene is suffering from a vampire bite. She is not the victim of Dracula, Carmilla, or Lord Ruthven, though. Rather, it is a vampiric sumach tree that has attacked her during her sleep. Ulric Daubeny’s “The Sumach,” published in his collection The Elemental: Tales of the Supernormal and the Inexplicable (1919), is a fascinating killer-plant story. It tells of a tree that has grown from a stake plunged into the heart of a buried vampire. The tree possesses hypnotic powers that seduce young women to its branches to feed upon them.

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Pop-Up Anthology: Victorian Music

The summer issue of Journal of Victorian Culture includes an important roundtable on Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Music that exemplifies the interdisciplinary strengths of JVC. Our music collection boasts work in art history, literary history, musicology and music history. Music as an aspect of Victorian culture has been less celebrated, and certainly less fully researched, than the so-called ‘sister arts’ of poetry and painting. Essays by Michael Allis, George Kennaway, Elizabeth Helsinger and Marte Stinis in issue 27:2 find new ways

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“Is it a snake with legs, or a lizard without them?”: The Strange and Wondrous Case of the Biscobra

Alice Perrin’s anthology of gothic short stories, East of Suez (1901), concludes with a rather unsettling story called “The Biscobra.” Perrin’s “The Biscobra” is a rare instance in Anglo-Indian fiction where the biscobra is the central concern. Here, the eponymous Indian animal—strange, wondrous, and deadly—devastates the domestic life of a young Anglo-Indian couple, the Kreys. The biscobra, in this story, does some narrative heavy lifting: it falls on a pregnant Nell Krey’s shoulders, frightening her to death; becomes the reincarnation

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Review: Alistair Robinson’s ‘Vagrancy in the Victorian Age’

Studies dealing with textual representations of homelessness in Britain during the early modern period are plentiful: for instance, Arthur Kinney’s Rogues, Vagabonds & Study Beggars: A New Gallery of Tudor and Early Stuart Rogue Literature (1973), A.L. Beier’s Masterless Men: The Vagrancy Problem in England 1560-1640 (1985), Linda Woodbridge’s Vagrancy, Homelessness, and English Renaissance Literature (2001), Patricia Fumerton’s Unsettled: The Culture of Mobility and the Working Poor in Early Modern England (2006) and Craig Dionne and Steve Mentz’s Rogues and Early

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JVC issue 27.1 is now available!

Anyone who’s read, or seen the latest adaptation of, Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life will remember the hapless Irish maid, Bridget, accused in an early scene of being  ‘brought up in a field’.  As Catherine Healy explores in her Prize Winning essay in this issue, Ethnic Jokes: Mocking the Working Irish Woman,  ‘Bridget’ is a stock comic figure of the nineteenth-century press, appearing liberally in English, Irish and American light journalism. Healy’s essay extends and deepens the explorations pioneered in

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Bankimchandra Chatterjee’s Fiction and Nineteenth-Century Cross-Cultural Dialogue

The cross-cultural dialogue generated as a part of the discursive assimilation between the East and the West during the nineteenth century was not only textured and nuanced, but further reflected larger epistemological debates emerging from this socio-historic conflation of ideas. The question of ‘colonial modernity’, which gained currency in later critical writing, focusing on the multiplicity of ideological categories formed as a part of this discursive shift, certainly testifies to the transformative cultural landscape of the time period. Significant among

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