Having completed a thesis on neo-Victorian fiction – specifically, the three neo-Victorian novels of Sarah Waters – I am left with a hopeless and seemingly ineradicable ‘gift’: identifying the many and varied ways in which Victorians and Victoriana reveal themselves within contemporary culture. Many of these moments are fleeting, transient, or otherwise unsuited to extended academic examination (at this point in time, at least). They are, however, often entertaining, inspiring, and eminently suitable for life outside the academy; as the blog observes, defunct train stations, music videos and ketchup bottles may not sustain an indepth analysis individually, but collectively they stand as evidence of the UK’s curious compulsion to look back to, adapt, and consume our Victorian forebears.
Personally, I suspect that verifying the ‘truth’ of this re-imagined Victorian history is but one approach. Another is to examine the thought that authenticity may count for little. A dash of Arts and Crafts here, a Victorian foremother there; less important to pinpoint an exact source than to speculate on why the UK looks back in the first place.
Most straightforwardly, perhaps, is that this approach allows for plenty of wonderful pictures! I’ve collected so many during the last few years and have nowhere to put them. Most crucially, the blog format allows for idle speculation that would be inappropriate in more academic formats. Academic writing is rewarding but tiring; sometimes it’s refreshing to simply write ‘I don’t know’.
Thus, Neo-Victorian Thoughts was born, in order to function as a repository of neo-Victoriana’s ‘peek-a-boo’ moments. Running since February 2012, I aim for regular short posts with more extended considerations of neo-Victorian moments being posted every fortnight or so. A neo-Victorian dictionary is planned for the summer, where I’ll be working my way through neo-Victorian ‘touchstones’ such as the Alhambra, Burlington Bertie, Corsets…
Louisa Yates is an early career researcher in neo-Victorian fiction, as well as a Visiting Lecturer at the universities of Chester and Edge Hill. She has published work on the novels of Sarah Waters, the practice of re-writing in neo-Victorian fiction and the figure of the child in queer neo-Victorian families. Most recently, Louisa became Research Fellow at Gladstone’s Library and is contributing to a two-year project in which contemporary liberalisms are defined, examined, and considered.