What happened in Victorian painting and sculpture after the Pre-Raphaelites? Aestheticism has been called the next avant-garde movement but attention has centered on literary figures such as Algernon Charles Swinburne, Walter Pater, and Oscar Wilde. This volume is the first scholarship study of parallel trends in the visual arts, including the work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, James McNeill Whistler, Edward Burne-Jones, Simeon Solomon, and Albert Moore among others.
Victorian Aestheticism has often been traded as a frivolous elevation of art above the concerns of political and social life. This book reinterprets Aestheticism as a significant exploration of what it might mean to produce works of art in the modern world. The chapters address not only "art for art's sake" but also linkages with the realms of science and morality. A major concern is the relationship between art and sexuality, from the experiments of the Rossetti circle in the 1860s to the male nude in late-Victorian sculpture. Both homosexual and heterosexual eroticism emerge as key issues in the artistic debates of the late-Victorian period.
As a complement to the existing literature on Pre-Raphaelitism, this collection is essential reading for all students of nineteenth-century art, literature, and culture.
Contributors are: Caroline Arscott, Robyn Asleson, Colin Cruise, Whitney Davis, Kate Flint, Alastair Grieve, Michael Hatt, Anne Koval, Alison Smith, and Robin Spencer
"Dying to Know is the work of a distinguished scholar, at the peak of his powers, who is intimately familiar with his materials, and whose knowledge of Victorian fiction and scientific thought is remarkable. This elegant and evocative look at the move toward objectivity first pioneered by Descartes sheds new light on some old and still perplexing problems in modern science." Bernard Lightman, York University, Canada
In Dying to Know, eminent critic George Levine makes a landmark contribution to the history and theory of scientific knowledge. This long-awaited book explores the paradoxes of our modern ideal of objectivity, in particular its emphasis on the impersonality and disinterestedness of truth. How, asks Levine, did this idea of selfless knowledge come to be established and moralized in the nineteenth century?
Levine shows that for nineteenth-century scientists, novelists, poets, and philosophers, access to the truth depended on conditions of such profound self-abnegation that pursuit of it might be taken as tantamount to the pursuit of death. The Victorians, he argues, were dying to know in the sense that they could imagine achieving pure knowledge only in a condition where the body ceases to make its claims: to achieve enlightenment, virtue, and salvation, one must die.
Dying to Know is ultimately a study of this moral ideal of epistemology. But it is also something much more: a spirited defense of the difficult pursuit of objectivity, the ethical significance of sacrifice, and the importance of finding a shareable form of knowledge.
The Mind and Art of Victorian England was first published in 1976. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
In a series of ten essays and a generous selection of illustrations, many in color, this volume depicts and assesses the mind and art of Victorian England. Multidisciplinary in approach, the essays deal with a variety of aspects in the history of the Victorian age.
Professor Altholz, the volume editor, writes: "It was an age not of revolution but of reform; political reform which admitted first the middle and then the working classes to the dominant share of the suffrage; economic and social reforms which proclaimed the triumph of laissez-faire while laying the foundations of the welfare state; moral reforms attempted if not achieved through education and religious revival; aesthetic reforms proposed if not achieved and, even in their failure, adding to the richness and diversity of Victorian England. It was an age whose problems cried out for reform; and, despite the prevailing complacency, virtually all the great Victorians were critics of their age. Their criticisms were diverse and often mutually incompatible, with each other -- and their public -- but they shared a high seriousness which gave character and substance to the flowering of their culture. Such was the Victorian age: the high-water mark of English history, the maturation of British culture, and the seedbed of our problems and our discontents."
The illustrations include color reproductions of some of the works discussed by Melvin Waldfogel in his essay "Narrative Painting," and a selection of architectural engravings and photographs.
Tea drinking in Victorian England was a pervasive activity that, when seen through the lens of a century’s perspective, presents a unique overview of Victorian culture. Tea was a necessity and a luxury; it was seen as masculine as well as feminine; it symbolized the exotic and the domestic; and it represented both moderation and excess. Tea was flexible enough to accommodate and to mark subtle differences in social status, to mediate these differences between individuals, and to serve as a shared cultural symbol within England.
In A Necessary Luxury: Tea in Victorian England, Julie E. Fromer analyzes tea histories, advertisements, and nine Victorian novels, including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Wuthering Heights, and Portrait of a Lady. Fromer demonstrates how tea functions within the literature as an arbiter of taste and middle-class respectability, aiding in the determination of class status and moral position. She reveals the way in which social identity and character are inextricably connected in Victorian ideology as seen through the ritual of tea.
Drawing from the fields of literary studies, cultural studies, history, and anthropology, A Necessary Luxury offers in-depth analysis of both visual and textual representations of the commodity and the ritual that was tea in nineteenth-century England.
Historians of science have long noted the influence of the nineteenth-century political economist Thomas Robert Malthus on Charles Darwin. In a bold move, Piers J. Hale contends that this focus on Malthus and his effect on Darwin’s evolutionary thought neglects a strong anti-Malthusian tradition in English intellectual life, one that not only predated the 1859 publication of the Origin of Species but also persisted throughout the Victorian period until World War I. Political Descent reveals that two evolutionary and political traditions developed in England in the wake of the 1832 Reform Act: one Malthusian, the other decidedly anti-Malthusian and owing much to the ideas of the French naturalist Jean Baptiste Lamarck.
These two traditions, Hale shows, developed in a context of mutual hostility, debate, and refutation. Participants disagreed not only about evolutionary processes but also on broader questions regarding the kind of creature our evolution had made us and in what kind of society we ought therefore to live. Significantly, and in spite of Darwin’s acknowledgement that natural selection was “the doctrine of Malthus, applied to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms,” both sides of the debate claimed to be the more correctly “Darwinian.” By exploring the full spectrum of scientific and political issues at stake, Political Descent offers a novel approach to the relationship between evolution and political thought in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Victorian England, as is well known, produced an enormous amount of scientific endeavour, but what has previously been overlooked is the important role of geography on these developments.
Naylor seeks to rectify this imbalance by presenting a historical geography of regional science. Taking an in-depth look at the county of Cornwall, questions on how science affected provincial Victorian society, how it changed people’s relationship with the landscape and how it shaped society are applied to the Cornish case study, allowing a depth and texture of analysis denied to more general scientific overviews of the period.
Arthur Munby (1828–1910) was a Victorian gentleman from a respected family of Yorkshire lawyers. He left behind diaries that record his life-long obsession with working-class Victorian women, whom he interviewed, photographed and wrote about. This obsession led to his relationship with, and eventual secret marriage to, his maidservant Hannah Cullwick.
Working women fascinated Munby because they disrupted his Victorian ideal of femininity: their bodies were altered by physical exertion and dirt, and they were also often deformed by disease. Drawing not only on the diaries but also on a vast, untapped archive of documents, photographs, poems and sketches, Watching Hannah is far more than an account of a compulsive observer of working women and a fetishist of hard-working female hands, however. The author analyzes Munby's obsessions in relation to changing definitions of gender, sexual identity and class to reveal wider male preoccupations with femininity, the body, deformity, masculinity and – most of all – sexuality, at a pivotal point in European history.