Of Victorian Interest

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Of Victorian Interest

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Prize: Announcing the RSVP’s 2016 VanArsdel Essay Prize Winners

rsvpThe Research Society for Victorian Periodicals is delighted to announce the co-winners of the 2016 VanArsdel Essay Prize:

Grace Beekman, an MA student at the University of St. Thomas, for her essay “Emotional Density, Suspense, and the Serialization of The Woman in White in All the Year Round,” and

Abigail Droge, a doctoral student at Stanford University, for her essay “Going Rogue: A Brief History of the Transferable Skill.”

Beekman’s and Droge’s essays will be published in the spring 2017 issue of Victorian Periodicals Review, and the two writers will share the $500 prize. The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals extends their warmest congratulations to them both!


Grace Beekman, "Emotional Density, Suspense, and the Serialization of The Woman in White in All the Year Round

Analyzing serialized texts using quantitative methodology destabilizes our understanding of how emotion functions in the serial, allowing us to visualize the text’s emotionality and broader emotional patterns. Rather than privileging particular characters or scenes, a practice common to close reading, my distant reading analysis accounts for every character emotion expressed or observed throughout the The Woman in White’s forty serialized installments. Calculating the “emotional density” of each installment reveals that Collins’s female character emotion is not only crucial to the suspense level of each installment but also prompts female investigative action and cultivates homosocial bonds of emotional self-expression between women.

Abigail Droge, "Going Rogue: A Brief History of the Transferable Skill"

This article juxtaposes debates about the transferable skill in twenty-first-century pedagogy and nineteenth-century periodicals. In the 1840s, William Harrison Ainsworth’s Jack Sheppard, originally serialized in Bentley’s Miscellany, threatened (according to the scandalized upper classes) to turn lower-class readers into criminals who could apply skills learned in the novel to real-life thefts and murders. In post-recession American universities in the 2010s, humanities pedagogy often relies upon the rhetoric of the transferable skill (like critical thinking or writing) in order to make courses appear financially viable to students and administrators. I argue that transfers rarely come singly: the transfer of skills can mask a transfer of socioeconomic responsibility as well. I end, unconventionally, with a lesson plan.

The VanArsdel Prize was established in 1990 to honor Rosemary VanArsdel, a founding member of RSVP whose groundbreaking research continues to shape the field of nineteenth-century periodical studies. The deadline for next year’s award competition is June 1, 2017. See www.rs4vp.org/awards/.

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