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Victorian Vulgarity

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Originally describing language use and class position, vulgarity became, over the course of the nineteenth century, a word with wider social implications. Variously associated with behavior, the possession of wealth, different races, sexuality and gender, the objects displayed in homes, and ways of thinking and feeling, vulgarity suggested matters of style, taste, and comportment. This collection examines the diverse ramifications of vulgarity in the four areas where it was most discussed in the nineteenth century: language use, changing social spaces, the emerging middle classes, and visual art. Exploring the dynamics of the term as revealed in dictionaries and grammars; Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor; fiction by Dickens, Eliot, Gissing, and Trollope; essays, journalism, art, and art reviews, the contributors bring their formidable analytical skills to bear on this enticing and divisive concept. Taken together, these essays urge readers to consider the implications of vulgarity's troubled history for today's writers, critics, and artists.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780754664055
  • Publisher: Ashgate Publishing, Limited
  • Publication date: 8/1/2009
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction Varieties of vulgarity Elsie B. Michie Michie, Elsie B. Susan David Bernstein Bernstein, Susan David 1

1 The vulgarity of elegance : social mobility, middle-class diction, and the Victorian novel novel, Victorian Beth Newman Newman, Beth 17

2 Wulgarity and witality : on making a spectacle of oneself in Pickwick James Buzard Buzard, James 35

3 Rudeness, slang, and obscenity : working-class politics in London labour and the London poor Ellen Bayuk Rosenman Rosenman, Ellen Bayuk 55

4 Vulgar Christianity Elsie B. Michie Michie, Elsie B. 71

5 Breeding, education, and vulgarity : George Gissing and the lower-middle classes Rosemary Jann Jann, Rosemary 85

6 Too common readers at the British Museum Susan David Bernstein Bernstein, Susan David 101

7 "A religion of pots and pans" : Jewish materialism and spiritual materiality in Israel Zangwill's Children of the ghetto Meri-Jane Rochelson Rochelson, Meri-Jane 119

8 Gross vulgarity and the domestic ideal : Anthony Trollope's The small house at Allingston Carolyn Dever Dever, Carolyn 139

9 "It went through and through me like an electric shock" : celebrating vulgar female desire and the realist novel in Trollope's Ayala's angel Deborah Denenholz Morse Morse, Deborah Denenholz 153

10 Vulgarity, stupidity, and worldliness in Middlemarch Joseph Litvak Litvak, Joseph 169

11 Poison books and moving pictures : vulgarity in The picture of Dorian Gray Ronald R. Thomas Thomas, Ronald R. 185

12 James Tissot's "coloured photographs of vulgar society" Nancy Rose Marshall Marshall, Nancy Rose 201

13 Vulgar India from nabobs to nationalism : imperial reversals and the mediation of art JulieF. Codell Codell, Julie F. 223

Afterword How Victorian was vulgarity? John Kucich Kucich, John 241

Index 253

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