Victorian Vulgarity

Victorian Vulgarity

by Susan David Bernstein
Pub. Date:
Taylor & Francis


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Victorian Vulgarity

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780754664055
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 08/01/2009
Edition description: 1
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Susan David Bernstein is Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Elsie B. Mitchie is Associate Professor of English at Louisiana State University, USA.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: varieties of vulgarity, Elsie B. Mitchie and Susan David Bernstein; Part I Vulgar Words: The vulgarity of elegance: social mobility, middle-class diction, and the Victorian novel, Beth Newman; Wulgarity and witality: on making a spectacle of oneself in Pickwick, James Buzard; Rudeness, slang, and obscenity: working-class politics in London Labour and The London Poor, Ellen Bayuk Rosenman. Part II Common Places: Vulgar Christianity, Elsie B. Michie; Breeding, education, and vulgarity: George Gissing and the lower-middle classes, Rosemary Jann; Too common readers at the British Museum, Susan David Bernstein; 'A religion of pots and pans': Jewish materialism and spiritual materiality in Israel Zangwill's Children of the Ghetto, Meri-Jane Rochelson. Part III Vulgar Middles: Gross vulgarity and the domestic ideal: Anthony Trollope's The Small House at Allington, Carolyn Dever; '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; Vulgarity, stupidity, and worldliness in Middlemarch, Joseph Litvak. Part IV Visual Vulgarity: Poison books and moving pictures: vulgarity in The Picture of Dorian Gray, Ronald R. Thomas; James Tissot's 'coloured photographs of vulgar society', Nancy Rose Marshall; Vulgar India from nabobs to nationalism: imperial reversals and the mediation of art, Julie F. Codell; Afterword: how Victorian was vulgarity?, John Kucich; Index.

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