Simon Morgan, ‘Material Culture and the Politics of Personality in Early Victorian England’

My article on ‘Material Culture and the Politics of Personality in Early Victorian England’ explores the role and meaning of things in the development of nascent personality cults around politicians, particularly those involved in extra-parliamentary campaigns such as the free trade and anti-slavery movements.  Such objects ranged from mass produced items like medals, ceramics or popular prints, to more intimate and personal artefacts such as locks of hair.  It is my contention that, by studying these artefacts, historians can gain

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Victorian legacies in Alan Hollinghurst’s The Strangers Child

The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst, London: Picador, 2011, 576 pages, £20 paperback, ISBN: 0330483242 Till from the garden and the wild A fresh association blow, And year by year the landscape grow Familiar to the stranger’s child; Tennyson, ‘In Memoriam A.H.H.’ I’ve just finished reading Alan Hollinghurst’s new novel, The Stranger’s Child. I bought it at the beginning of June in Cardiff after running a conference there on ‘Material Religion’. Exhausted and falling asleep on the train, I put it away

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Discriminating Fossils – the crystal models belonging to the Watt family, c.1800

by Jane Insley (curator) and Valerie McCathern (volunteer; this project was Valerie’s fault, so she is co-author!) Science Museum, London. Image One: Watt workshop The Science Museum has recently opened a new permanent exhibition about the 18th century steam pioneer James Watt. This had two main aims – one, the redisplay in public view of the garret workshop James Watt set up in Heathfield, his retirement home, and the other, to make more sense of the huge steam engines in

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Conference Report: Transforming Objects, 28-29 May 2012, Northumbria University

Nicole Bush (Northumbria) This two-day conference hosted papers that addressed the transformation of objects and the transformations effected by objects from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. Object theory and discourses of materiality largely engage with objects as stable items of a permanent nature; as the conference co-organiser, I was keen to attract papers which sought to address those moments which slip through the gaps of such readings and explore the process of transformation and the between-ness or not fully

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A Man of Charms: Edward Lovett Exhibition at the Wellcome Collection

Edward Lovett (1852-1933) was an amateur folklorist who, from the age of 8, was an avid collector of charms and amulets. Despite his ‘amateur’ status, Lovett was widely considered to be a leading authority in British folklore and superstitious tradition. Lovett’s reputation was borne out of the many excursions he made to working-class districts of London. He visited shops, dockyards and costmongers looking for discarded or lost objects. It seems only fitting that nearly a hundred years later, his rather

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Elisha Cohn, ”One single ivory cell’: Oscar Wilde and the Brain’

Recent studies have demonstrated how new theories of materiality in the late nineteenth century shaped conceptions of everyday objects—top-hats, teapots, green carnations—yet have not extended this research to the burgeoning late-Victorian field of the neurosciences, and its conception of the mind as material. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde traces ‘the thoughts and passions of men to some pearly cell in the brain’ (280). As his notebooks from his undergraduate days at Oxford show, Wilde was fascinated by

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New Agenda – Katharina Boehm and Josephine McDonagh, ‘Urban Mobility: New Maps of Victorian London’

‘The Uncommercial Traveller, whose urban explorations by foot, coach and train lead him from genteel Bond Street to the muddy thoroughfares of the East End, and from London’s ‘shy neighbourhoods’ to the docks by the Thames, reminds us of the mobility of Victorian city dwellers. Like Dickens’s compulsive traveller, countless fictional and historical Londoners experienced the city and its material cultures on the move.’  Introducing the New Agenda on ‘Urban Mobility’, Katharina Boehm and Josephine McDonagh survey the scholarship on the

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New Agenda – Fragments of the Modern City: Material Culture and the Rhythms of Everyday Life in Victorian London

Lining the shelves of a Museum of London warehouse are thousands of boxes of the broken and fragmented belongings of Victorian Londoners. In JVC 15.2 Alastair Owens, Nigel Jeffries, Karen Wehner and Rupert Featherby consider how such evidence can contribute to our understanding of the social and cultural worlds of Victorian Londoners. Does it allow us to grasp the ‘actualities’ of life in the modern metropolis, obscured by a pervasive bourgeois gaze that saturates other historical sources? This article is

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Book Reviews (15.2)

Malcolm Chase on G. W. M. Reynolds: Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Politics, and the Press, edited by Anne Humpherys and Louis James (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008). To read the full review, visit http://www.informaworld.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=1355%2d5502&volume=15&issue=2&spage=299 David Richter on Rebecca Stern’s Home Economics: Domestic Fraud in Victorian England (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2008). To read the full review, visit http://www.informaworld.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=1355%2d5502&volume=15&issue=2&spage=303. Talia Schaffer on John Plotz’s Portable Property: Victorian Culture on the Move (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008). To read the full review, visit http://www.informaworld.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=1355%2d5502&volume=15&issue=2&spage=307.

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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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