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Sensation and Modernity in the 1860s

Overview

This is a study of high and low culture in the years before the Reform Act of 1867, which vastly increased the number of voters in Victorian Britain. As many commentators worried about the political consequences of this ‘Leap in the Dark’, authors and artists began to re-evaluate their own role in a democratic society that was also becoming more urban and more anonymous. While some fantasized about ways of capturing and holding the attention of the masses, others preferred to make art and literature more ...

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Overview

This is a study of high and low culture in the years before the Reform Act of 1867, which vastly increased the number of voters in Victorian Britain. As many commentators worried about the political consequences of this ‘Leap in the Dark’, authors and artists began to re-evaluate their own role in a democratic society that was also becoming more urban and more anonymous. While some fantasized about ways of capturing and holding the attention of the masses, others preferred to make art and literature more exclusive, to shut out the crowd. One path led to ‘Sensation’; the other to aestheticism, though there were also efforts to evade this opposition. This book examines the fiction, drama, fine art, and ephemeral forms of these years against the backdrop of Reform. Authors and artists studied include Wilkie Collins, Dion Boucicault, Charles Dickens, James McNeill Whistler, and the popular illustrator, Alfred Concanen.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'… scholars will welcome Daly's work which opens up fields of thought and investigation in ways that usefully complicate the preconceptions and misconceptions surrounding the Victorian era.' http://res.oxfordjournals.org
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Nicholas Daly is Chair in Modern English and American Literature, School of English, Drama and Film, University College Dublin.

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Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. The woman in white and the crowd; 2. The many lives of the Colleen Bawn: pastoral spectacle; 3. The white girl: aestheticism as mesmerism; 4. Black and white in the 1860s; 5. The chromolithographers of modern life; Conclusion.

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