Digital Clairvoyance: Lessons Learned by Text Mining the “Dr Slade Number” from 1876

The American medium Henry Slade was a nineteenth-century sensation. At the height of his career in the early 1870s he was considered one of the most extraordinary psychics of his generation. His main performance featured a type of supernormal communication where written messages, said to be from spirits existing beyond the veil, appeared on supposedly blank slates. It was a hugely popular act, and Slade toured all over North America and Europe demonstrating his incredible mediumship to broad and eager

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Arsenic and Old Wallpapers

“My wallpapers are killing me; one of us must go!” Oscar Wilde’s infamous last words are usually construed as a rueful comment on the ugliness of the decorations in his Paris hotel bedroom. Yet they could also be interpreted literally, and applied to the thousands of Victorians who fell victim to the deadly pigments in their wallpapers. Even from the vantage point of the recent pandemic, the nineteenth century was a hazardous time to be alive: subject to regular outbreaks

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“Writing Between the Lines”: Style as Walter Pater’s Esoteric Teaching of Queerness

Walter Pater, late nineteenth-century aesthete, is sometimes considered a quietist lacking political engagement. Heather Love points out that Pater has been closely linked to the ills of aestheticism, in particular, political quietism. She challenges this view by proposing to read Pater’s works “not as a refusal of politics but rather as a politics of refusal”.[1] I argue that Pater is not only engaged in a “politics of refusal” but also covertly celebrates unorthodox queerness esoterically to ensure that his radical

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Disability and Narrative Voice in Dinah Mulock Craik’s ‘John Halifax, Gentleman’

Dinah Mulock Craik’s novel John Halifax, Gentleman (1856) is a fictional biographical account of John Halifax’s development as a self-made man, told by his best friend, the physically disabled Phineas Fletcher. Throughout the novel, Phineas is very much preoccupied with bodies and physicality, often expressing his deep admiration for John’s physical strength and health. From the very beginning, John’s masculinity is highlighted when Phineas introduces John and admires his able-bodiedness, even before mentioning his name, which provides the readers with

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The JVC Graduate Student Essay Prize 2023

We are pleased to announce the next JVC Essay Prize competition. The aim of the prize is to promote scholarship among postgraduate research students working on the Victorian period in any discipline in the UK and abroad.  The Journal inaugurated the prize in 2007, and our past winners include Louise Lee, Tiffany Watt-Smith, Bob Nicholson, Tom Scriven, Roisín Laing, Lucy Whitehead, and Catherine Healy whose essays appear in issues 13.1 (2008), 15.1 (2010), 17.3 (2012), 19.1 (2014), 21.4 (2016) and 24.4

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Victorian literature as a subject of computer games of the 80s and early 90s

The detective who prowls through the billowing fog on the Thames, the adventurer who sets off in fantastic machines on journeys into the vastness of space and the depths of the ocean, or the brilliantly plotted intrigue in an aristocratic country estate: the popular literature of the Victorian era offers many themes that can still be found in contemporary media. Computer and video games are no exception to this rule. Passionate gamers can, for example, roam through the London of

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“The Lady is Ugly!”: The Imposition of Gender Binaries Upon Marian Halcombe

Marian Halcombe is a complex woman. Unlike many other female characters, both within and outside Victorian fiction, she stands outside the gender binary. She is often attributed male characteristics, both in mind and appearance. Her appearance is complex, juxtaposing her feminine and sexualized body with her masculine and ‘ugly’ face: The lady is dark. […] The lady is young. […] The lady is ugly! Never has the old conventional maxim, that Nature cannot err, more flatly contradicted – never was

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The Shadow of Mal: Gothic Romance and Victorian Ghosts in ‘Inception’

Christopher Nolan is acclaimed for his cinematic hybridization of multiple genres, ranging from thriller and science fiction to heist drama and superhero narratives. His use of literary themes in movie-making is especially prominent given that Nolan often writes character-driven stories with psychological depth and moral complexity. In his 2010 heist film, Inception, Nolan experiments with the narrative mechanics of Gothic romance through the story of Dom Cobb, a professional thief who extracts information by infiltrating his subjects’ dreams. Cobb’s inability

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The Socialist Utopia as Child’s Play: The Games of H. G. Wells and E. Nesbit

The first edition of H. G. Wells’s 1911 publication Floor Games, a manual for a worldbuilding game for children, opens with a declaration: [On a floor] may be made an infinitude of imaginative games, not only keeping boys and girls happy for days together, but building up a framework of spacious and inspiring ideas in them for after life. The British Empire will gain new strength from nursery floors.[1] The concept that child’s play could alter the child’s future —

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The Architecture of Victorian Christendom (book review)

English Victorian Churches: Architecture, Faith & Revival (John Hudson Publishing) by the eminent architectural historian James Stevens Curl is a book that can be read in more than one way and appeal to more than one kind of audience. It can be read as a work of scholarship; one that spans two distinct but related disciplines, namely Victorian church architecture and nineteenth-century ecclesiology. As an authoritative survey and critique of the finest examples of nineteenth-century English church building, it would

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