“Object Lessons: The Victorians and the Material Text”
A Special Issue of Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens
Guest edited by Mary Elizabeth Leighton and Lisa Surridge
With articles by:
Brett Beasley, Kirstie Blair, Simon Cooke, Alyssa J. Currie, Jeremy Valentine Freeman, Paul Fyfe, Linda K. Hughes, Virginie Iché, Jeffrey Jackson, Brian Maidment, Kirsten MacLeod, Sarah Parker, Vanessa Warne
This volume offers a series of ‘object lessons’ on Victorian publications from broadsides to Bibles, asking what the material forms of these texts teach us about their significance in Victorian culture. Some of our contributors direct their attention to the neglected material forms of the Victorian period—the blank journal, the almanac, the broadside temperance ballad, the thumb Bible, the Illustrated London News’s special issue printed at the Great Exhibition of 1851, and magazines for blind readers. Others consider the under-studied original material forms of now-canonical texts, including the serial and first edition of Sketches by Boz (1836), the first ‘whole book’ written by Dickens as he emerged from his early journalistic career; the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), whose page layout constructs an active child reader; and the neglected serial edition of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw (1898), written as a marketable commodity by a writer who scorned—but could not afford to ignore—the commodity market. Spanning a temporal range from the 1820s to 1912, all contributions focus attention on the physical ‘book-object’ as nineteenth- and twentieth-century readers encountered it—in all its insistent physicality. This special issue can be found at: https://cve.revues.org/2861.
Mary Elizabeth Leighton and Lisa Surridge are colleagues in the English Department at the University of Victoria, Canada. Long-time members of NAVSA, they have both served on the advisory board and co-organized the 2007 NAVSA-VSAWC joint conference in Victoria, BC. They have published articles in Victorian Studies, Victorian Literature and Culture, and Victorian Periodicals Review as well as entries in BRANCH, The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature, the Cambridge Companion to Sensation Fiction, Dickens in Context, and Beyond Svengali: George du Maurier: Illustrator, Critic, Author, among other venues. They have just completed a decade-long term as co-editors of Victorian Review; their monograph, The Plot Thickens: Illustrated Victorian Serial Fiction from Dickens to Du Maurier, is under consideration by a university press.