Julian Barnes on Madame Bovary

November 17, 2010 at 10:24 am (General Victoriana)


I recommend Julian Barnes‘ recent LRB essay on Flaubert’s 1857 masterpiece, Madame Bovary.  You can read the whole thing for free on the LRB website: fascinating discussion of the difficulties and possibilities of translation, but also some interesting stuff on the novel and its mid-19th-century context. [AR]


Permalink Leave a Comment

Lecture: Kate Flint on Early Photography

November 12, 2010 at 12:03 pm (General Victoriana)

Goldsmiths’ Department of English & Comparative Literature presents:

Kate Flint – “`Bottled lightning’: Flash Photography and the Language of Modernity” – as part of the Richard Hoggart Lecture Series.

Time: 6.30 p.m.

Date: Wednesday 17th November

Venue: Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre


To reserve a place e-mail m.macdonald@gold.ac.uk

Professor Kate Flint taught at the Universities of Bristol and Oxford before moving to Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she is currently Chair of the English Department. Her lecture, ‘”Bottled lightning”: Flash Photography and the Language of Modernity’ is based on her work for a new book provisionally entitled “Flash! Photography, Writing, and Surprising Illumination.” Flint’s interdisciplinary and transatlantic research spans the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Previous books include The Victorians and The Visual Imagination (Cambridge University Press, 2000) and The Woman Reader, 1837-1914 (Oxford University Press, 1993). Her areas of specialization include Victorian and early twentieth-century cultural and literary history, visual culture, women’s writing, gender studies, and transatlantic studies. Her most recent book is The Transatlantic Indian 1776-1930 (Princeton University Press, 2008), which looks at the two-way relations between Native Americans and the British in the long 19th century, exploring questions of modernity, nationhood, performance, popular culture, and the impacts of travel.

Permalink 2 Comments

Royal Holloway 19thC Reading Group: Meeting Thursday 18th November

November 12, 2010 at 12:00 pm (General Victoriana)

This is to announce the next (and first for this academic year!) meeting of the .

Thursday 18th November 2pm-3pm IN244

Text for discussion: ‘Introduction’ to Andrew Miller’s The Burdens of Perfection: On Ethics and Reading in Nineteenth-Century British Literature. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2008. (I will post a .pdf of the reading to the Reading Group webpage.)

As always, all postgraduates (taught and research) and staff are welcome to attend.

For those of you who are new to the Department, the group meets twice a term to discuss nominated texts which contribute in interesting ways to current critical debates in the field of nineteenth-century studies. Postgraduates and staff who are not nineteenth-century specialists, but who have some interest in the broader themes/debates involved in the set text or in nineteenth-century topics generally, are very welcome to join us.

Best wishes,


Dr Vicky Greenaway

Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature
Royal Holloway, University of London
Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX
Tel: 01784 276423

Permalink Leave a Comment

Franklin Expedition

October 6, 2009 at 12:23 pm (General Victoriana, Nineteenth-century novel)

I owe Monica (I think it was) an apology. In last week’s Novel class (on David Copperfield) I asked if anybody knew what was especially memorable about the year 1848. Several people offered suggestions, and Monica brought up the Franklin Expedition. I pooh-poohed, but I had my dates wrong: indeed, as you’ll see if you click the link, in that last sentence there, the Franklin Expedition (two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, jointly under the command of a naval veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, Sir John Franklin) set off in 1845 to sail round the north of Canada to the Pacific, and thereby establish a less circuitous and less dangerous route to the lucrative Pacific than going south round South America — which is to say, they were searching for the fabled ‘Northwest Passage’. They were hoping their journey would be like this:

In fact it was like this:


They all died.  By 1848 people were aware that the expedition was lost, but it was still hoped that it, or survivors from it, might still be located. By the mid 1850s, after various search-and-rescue expeditions, it became clear that there were none. Dickens was particularly interested in this expedition. In Autumn 1854 the Hudson’s Bay Company surveyor Dr. John Rae brought back Inuit reports of cannibalism among Franklin’s men; Dickens refused to believe that Englishmen would sink so low, and debated the matter with Rae in the pages of his weekly journal, Household Words. Two years later, he and his friend Wilkie Collins put on a performance of a play based on the expedition, The Frozen Deep.
Collins ‘wrote’ the play, although Dickens’ input was so pronounced (he rewrote stretches of it, adapted it, acted in it) that it is sometimes cited as co-authored by the two of them. At the centre of the play is an act of noble self-sacrifice, out on the arctic wastes, by a character called Wardour; a dry-run for the same device (in a very different environment) in Tale of Two Cities.

Here’s a facsimile of the Times from 1859, reporting the fate of the expedition. And here’s more newspaper coverage, this time from 2008, proof that for some the story is still news.


So, the Franklin Expedition was contemporaneous with 1848 (sorry Monica!) although it’s unlikely it fed into the cultural climate behind Copperfield. What I was actually angling for was the ‘year of revolutions’. [AR]

Permalink 4 Comments

The Quickening Maze

September 24, 2009 at 2:28 pm (General Victoriana, Uncategorized)

Adam Foulds, The Quickening Maze 2009

I’d like to reiterate the general greeting, and say hello to everybody: good to see you all at this afternoon’s meeting! And in the spirit of interdisciplinarity, I’d also to direct you to a review I’ve written of Adam Foulds’ new novel, The Quickening Maze (2009) … it has been shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, and has accordingly been in the news a little bit.  This is not coursework, of course; but it’s an example of contemporary Victoriana that might be of interest to you nevertheless: John Clare, the poet, and Alfred Tennyson, also a poet, are both characters; and the mileu of the 1840s is well-captured.  I’ve reviewed it over at The Valve; the same review, but with different readers’ comments, is also at my own reviews blog.  I’d be interested to know your opinion, if you’ve read it.  Feel free, indeed feel actively encouraged, to put your thoughts in the comments to the post below.

This year’s Booker has a couple of Victorian-y titles on the shortlist, actually: I’m in the middle of A S Byatt’s The Children’s Book right now, and will blog about it when I’ve finished.  [Adam Roberts]

[7th October, update; I finished the Byatt, but didn’t think overmuch of it: you can read my thoughts here. But neither it nor the Foulds won the prize in the end … the 2009 Man Booker went, as I’m sure you know, to Hilary Mantel’s excellent Wolf Hall. I’ve a review of that too, here.]

Permalink 5 Comments

Welcome 2009-10 students!

September 23, 2009 at 12:13 pm (Aestheticism, Core Course, General Victoriana, Nineteenth-century novel, Uncategorized)

Welcome to the RHUL Victorian MA blog.

We use this site to post materials and weblinks related to seminar texts and to post notices of interest to RHUL Victorianists, including notices of relevant exhibitions and talks in and around London.

There’s also a facility to post your comments so it’s a great place to follow up on seminar discussions and continue your conversations outside of class.

We look forward to meeting you at the MA Induction, Thurs 24th.

The RHUL Victorian MA team.

Permalink Leave a Comment

National Gallery study day: the city (London and Paris) in 19thC art

February 24, 2009 at 1:40 pm (Aestheticism, Core Course, General Victoriana, Nineteenth-century novel)

Dear All,

Please see below for notice of an interesting study day at the National Gallery on depictions of the city in 19thC art.


Student Study Day

Thursday 30 April 2009
Sainsbury Wing Theatre, 10.30am–4.15pm
Tickets £6


Concepts of modernity and Modernism inform this study day as we explore the seamy underbelly of these two cities. We will focus on Ideas of town and country, leisure and pleasure, and the inventions and innovations which impacted so dramatically on life and art throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. National Gallery works by Hogarth, Courbet, Monet and Manet will be placed in their social and artistic context drawing on notions of gendered spaces, radical techniques and ‘the gaze’.


10.30–11am Registration and coffee

11–11.15am Introduction to the Day
Colin Wiggins – Head of Education, National Gallery

11.15–11.45am Whores, Colourmen and Coffee Houses: Hogarth’s London and London in Hogarth
James Heard – National Gallery

11.45am–12.15pm Many Little Harmless and Interesting Adventures…’ Men, Women and Streets in Victorian London
Lynda Nead – Birkbeck

12.15–1.15pm Talks in the Gallery

1.15-2.15pm Lunch (not provided)

2.15pm–2.45pm Two Women on the Banks of the Seine: Courbet and ‘The Gaze’
Jo Rhymer – National Gallery

2.45–3.15pm Manet and Morisot: Modern Life and Modernism in Late C19th Paris
Kathleen Adler – Independent Scholar

3.15-3.45pm Degas’ Little Ballet Dancer Aged 1 Desire, Contempt and the Fate of the Rat Girl
Colin Wiggins

3.45-4.15pm Questions/Plenary discussion

To book

For further information Tel 020 7747 2891 Email lee.riley@ng-london.org.uk
Lee Riley, Education Department, The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN.
For institution group bookings, contact Lee Riley to arrange invoicing.

Permalink 2 Comments

Funded PhD studentship: 19thC Pantomime

February 6, 2009 at 2:19 pm (Core Course, General Victoriana)

Dear All,

See below for a funded PhD opportunity at The University Birmingham, on British Pantomime in the Victorian period.

Deadline for applications is 27th March.



I’m happy to announce that as part of an AHRC-funded large grant project “A Cultural History of British Pantomime, 1837-1901” the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham has a fully-funded doctoral studentship to start in October, 2009, to run for three years.

The doctoral project will be a study of pantomime in England in the nineteenth century, with particular focus on the industrial centres of Birmingham, Leeds, and Manchester, in relation to the performance culture of the metropolitan centre of London. The chosen candidate will be based in Birmingham, supervised by Professor Kate Newey, and will benefit from working with other experienced scholars in the project team, including Co-Investigator, Professor Jeffrey Richards (Lancaster University), and contact with national and international experts through the larger research project. There will be opportunities to present work in progress at annual conferences hosted by the project, and for professional development as a member of the project team.

Applicants should normally have, or be studying for, a Master’s degree in Drama, English Literature, Victorian Studies, cultural history, or a related discipline.

Intending applicants are strongly advised to discuss their application informally with Kate Newey: k.newey@bham.ac.uk

The standard tuition fees and maintenance grant will be paid by the AHRC for eligible candidates. Non-UK students should check with the University and/or the AHRC for their eligibility. Further details about the application process are available at http://www.alpg.bham.ac.uk/funding

Further information and studentship application forms can be obtained from:

The Graduate School,

College of Arts and Law,

University of Birmingham,

Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT

tel : 0121 414 3189

or email L.A.Robinson.1@bham.ac.uk.

The deadline for applications is 27 March, 2009. Those short-listed will be asked to prepare a detailed research proposal and interviews will be held in early April.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Dr Margaret Reynolds lectures on George Eliot

January 14, 2009 at 11:59 am (General Victoriana, Nineteenth-century novel)

To all Victorian MA students: you are all invited to the Dabis Lecture by Dr Margaret Reynolds, Broadcaster and academic at Queen Mary, University of London:

‘George Eliot and the Classics’

Thursday 5 February

Windsor Building Auditorium, 6pm

2009 is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Adam Bede, the first novel by George Eliot, who studied at Bedford College. This lecture addresses the inspiration which she found in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, especially Greek tragedy.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Merry Christmas Victorianists!

December 19, 2008 at 9:38 pm (General Victoriana) ()

And what better way to celebrate the festive season than with a bit of Dickens? Over at The Valve Rohan Maitzen has set-up a reading group for The Chimes (1844): not as well known as God-bless-us-every-one A Christmas Carol (1843), but interesting nevertheless. Go Valvewards, why don’t you, and check it out; feel free to contibute to the ongoing discussion. (The Everyman edition of Dickens’s Christmas Books is even edited by our very own Professor Sally Ledger). And for an added bonus, check Rich Puchalsky’s account of going up a bell tower.

Merry Christmas to all, with a ho and a ho. And (why not?) another ho. [AR]

Permalink Leave a Comment

Next page »