September 30, 2008 at 12:41 pm (Core Course)

Handsome Henry Mayhew

Handsome Henry Mayhew


As you know, we are using the Penguin Edition of Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor, which has selections from Mayhew’s huge tome edited by Victor Neuberg. Please focus especially on the following sections:

pp. 5-8 (‘Of the London Street Folk’); pp. 36-42 (‘Penny Gaffs’); pp. 42-51 (‘Costergirls’); pp. 107-122 (‘Of the Low Loding Houses of London’); pp. 161-189 (‘Of the Children Street-Sellers of London’); pp. 257-278 (‘Crossing Sweepers’); pp. 418-443 (‘Asylum for the Houseless Poor’); pp. 473-491 (‘Prostitution’, by Bracebridge Hemyng). 

Please also read Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, ‘The City, the Sewer, the Gaze and the Contaminating Touch’, which is chapter  three of their  The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (London: Methuen, 1986), pp. 125-148. ADAM IS GOING TO HAND XEROX COPIES OF THIS OUT IN CLASS ON THURSDAY — DON’T LET HIM FORGET!

Other Secondary Reading

D. Englander, ‘Comparisons and Contrasts: Henry Mayhew and Charles Booth as Social Investigators’, in D. Englander and R. O’Day (eds), Retrieved Riches: Social Investigation in Britain, 1840-1914 (Cambridge: Scolar Press, 1995).

C. Gallagher, ‘The Body Versus the Social Body in the Works of Thomas Malthus and Henry Mayhew’, Representations 14 (1986), pp. 83-106.

C. Herbert, ‘Rat Worship and Taboo in Mayhew’s London’ Representations 23 (1988), pp. 1-24.

A. Humpherys, ‘Dickens and Mayhew on the London Poor’, Dickens Studies Annual 4 (1975), pp. 78-90.

R. Maxwell, ‘H. Mayhew and the Life of the Streets’, Journal of British Studies 17/2 (1978), pp. 87-104.

Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, ‘The City, the Sewer, the Gaze and the Contaminating Touch’, in The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (London: Methuen, 1986), pp. 125-148.


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EN5280 Aestheticism and Decadence

September 29, 2008 at 10:50 am (Aestheticism) (, )

Some possible critical reading for the class on Ruskin on Thursday:

John Dixon Hunt, ‘”Ut Pictura Poesis”‘ The Picturesque and John Ruskin’ MLN, Vol. 93, No. 5 Comparative Literature, pp.794-818. The essay is available on JSTOR, here.

Wendell V. Harris, ‘Ruskin’s Theoretic Practicality and the Royal Academy’s Aesthetic idealism’, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Vol.52, No. 1 (June 1997), pp. 80-102. [JSTOR]

Elizabeth K. Helsinger, Ruskin and the Art of the Beholder (Harvard University Press, 1982) [Google books]

Kenneth Daley, The Rescue of Romanticism: Walter Pater and John Ruskin (Ohio University press, 2001) [Google books]

Robert Hewison, John Ruskin: The Argument of the Eye (Princeton University Press, 1976)

Richard L. Stein, The Ritual of Interpretation: The Fine Arts as Literature in Ruskin, Rosetti and Pater (Harvard University press, 1975) [Google books]

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Illustrated London News, 1857

September 27, 2008 at 9:02 am (Uncategorized)

You should, by now, have picked up your copy of the ILN from Saturday, July 4th 1857. [

    If you haven’t, please collect one from the departmental office

] Please read this before the class on Thursday 4th October. In that class we are going to discuss it in terms both of word and image, and they way they interrelate; the semiology of the text.

The lead article, as you can see, is ‘The Mutiny in India’. We will discuss the historical context for this event, but it would be useful for you, if you don’t already know about it, to find out a little about this event. It’s been in the news recently … see this BBC report from last year:

A group of Britons seeking to pay tribute to those who died in an Indian revolt 150 years ago have spent the day holed up in their hotel. The retired soldiers and civilians were advised not to visit the historic Residency in the city of Lucknow because of anger over their visit. Protesters in India say the trip is an insult to Indian freedom fighters.

You might also want to take a look at the following resources:

  • The Wikipedia entry on The Indian Rebellion of 1857 is a useful overview. In general I am wary of sending students to Wikipedia, because the quality of its articles varies greatly and some are unreliable; but this is one of the better ones.
  • The Sepoy Blog is an interesting thing: day-by-day blogging from a hundred and fifty years ago.
  • These paintings give a Romanticised, English perspective on events.
  • These photographs, however, give a less illusioned perspective.
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September 25, 2008 at 9:36 am (Uncategorized) ()

Founders Building

This blog has been set up, principally, for all students on the Victorian MA at Royal Holloway University of London. If you’re one of those students … welcome! If you’re not, but are interested in the Victorian period, literature, art and culture, then feel free to stick around; you can contribute, if you like, although please remain courteous.

I’ll be posting Victorian-related posts, sometimes related to seminar topics and sometimes of general interest. If you’re a student on the MA and would like to post on the blog, please drop me a line. To begin with, though, check out the list of Victorian links on the sidebar.

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