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Mary L. Mullen, Novel Institutions: Anachronism, Irish Novels and Nineteenth-Century Realism

Novel Institutions:

Anachronism, Irish Novels and Nineteenth-Century Realism

Mary L. Mullen

This book examines anachronisms in realist writing from the colonial periphery to redefine British realism and rethink the politics of institutions. Paying unprecedented attention to nineteenth-century Irish novels, it demonstrates how institutions constrain social relationships in the present and limit our sense of political possibilities in the future. It argues that we cannot escape institutions, but we can refuse the narrow political future that they work to secure.

The book’s three sections—‘Necessary and Unnecessary Anachronisms’, ‘Forgetting and Remembrance’, and ‘Untimely Improvement’—pair English and Irish realist novels to question modern institutionalism both in the Victorian period and in our political present. The book covers realist writing by Maria Edgeworth, William Carleton, Charles Kickham, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, and George Moore. Contending that the contradictory dynamics and temporal and political divisions in Irish realist novels offer a new understanding of realist form, the arguments can apply to a wide range of British and colonial texts that similarly move between institutional time and anachronisms.

Mary L. Mullen is an Assistant Professor of English and member of the Irish Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies faculty at Villanova University. She has published articles on settler colonialism, public humanities, and the politics of time in nineteenth-century English and Irish writing.

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