“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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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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Books and Borders in the Atlantic World

The nineteenth-century Anglo-Atlantic world, although fractured by emergent national categories after 1776, continued to share a vibrant literary market united by language and trade.[1] Charles Dickens and Sir Walter Scott were popular in Britain, Canada, and the United States, and James Fenimore Cooper was read and imitated on both sides of the Atlantic. British literature provided Canadian colonial writers with models to emulate and with iconic names to admire; Canadian book buyers dealt with American, as well as with British

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Venerating Verses and Disrespectful Ditties: Informal Music Inspired by Queen Victoria

Over the course of her record breaking six-decade reign, Queen Victoria was the subject of numerous formal and informal musical compositions alike. While most formal music was reverential in nature and sought to praise the monarch, by and large the informal music that Victoria inspired among the lower classes tended to contain derogatory or mocking depictions of the queen. However, there were a small number of compositions that celebrated Victoria’s personal and political successes. Still, most of these were informal

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Words at War: Fiction and Critique Forged in Times and Spaces of Violence

War occupies an uneasy place in literature and in the study of literature. Raymond Williams’s well-known observation about Jane Austen captures something of this dynamic: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen chose to ignore the decisive historical events of her time. Where […] are the Napoleonic wars: the real current of history?” (113). In posing this question, Williams makes war both central to, and beside the point of, the novel form. Today, the relationship between war and

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North American Democracies in the Victorian Era: The Political Satire of Th. Ch. Haliburton

Throughout 2020, the world has been watching American democracy appearing to unravel as its Covid-19 pandemic spiralled out of control; the responsibility for public health measures devolved from the federal level to state level, then to county level, and ultimately down to individuals who pushed back in the name of freedom and challenged lockdowns in courts, and attempted to take over the US Capitol. Prudently, on March 31 Canada closed its southern border and is continuing to monitor the increasingly

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Sympathy in Public, Sympathy in Private: An Introduction to Novelist Edna Lyall in Two Parts (Part 1)

Sympathy sold well in the late-nineteenth-century literary marketplace. When the novel We Two (1884) by Edna Lyall (pseudonym of Ada Ellen Bayly, 1857–1903) became an overnight sensation, Lyall cut a figure that was ready-made to slip into the role of sympathy spokesperson. Her career became a sympathetic enterprise in more than one sense. Not only did she write sensitively to ease myriad anxieties crowding the minds and lives of lower-middle-class readers; she also aspired to instill in readers a habitual

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Helen Kingstone, ‘Noiseless revolutions? The Victorian roots of Theresa May’s rhetoric’

Helen Kingstone is co-Deputy Director of the Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies, and Postdoctoral Research Associate at Leeds Trinity University. Her book Victorian Narratives of the Recent Past: memory, history, fiction is forthcoming with Palgrave If you were tuning in to the UK news in early October, you would probably have heard snippets from Theresa May’s first Conservative Party conference speech as leader and Prime Minister. What might – or might not – have surprised you was how steeped it was

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Rohan McWilliam, The Victorians Are Still With Us

Rohan McWilliam is Professor of Modern British History at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.  He is the author of The Tichborne Claimant: A Victorian Sensation (London: Continuum, 2007) and is currently writing a history of the West End of London. Contact: rohan.mcwilliam@anglia.ac.uk We seldom lack heirs to G.M.Young.  When it comes to the Victorians, every age throws up its portrait of an age.[1]  But producing a wide-ranging account of Victorian Britain these days is becoming increasingly difficult.  The historical literature is

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The Chartist Mural: Destroyed

On the 3rd of October, 2013, the Chartist Mural was demolished. A familiar presence in the city of Newport since 1978, the mural had become firmly established as arguably the best known tribute to the political rising of 1839. Yet, despite its prized position within the affections of locals, the mural was torn down in an act of clandestine cultural vandalism. The Chartist movement has long maintained a position of significance in south east Wales, and Newport in particular. Historically,

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