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Death and Domesticity:From Victorian Masculinity to Literary Afterlives

Tuesday 24 June 2014, 5.00PM to 6.00pm

Centre for Modern Studies Postgraduate Forum Seminar

  • Emma Butcher – Sensation Fiction and Infanticide: Club Culture and the Crisis of Domestic Masculinity
  • Emily Bowles – Re/Shaping Identity: The Beginnings of the Dickens "Myth"

Emma Butcher's paper exposes Victorian anxieties about club culture and failed fatherhood through an overlooked example of ‘temperance trash’. By climaxing with an explicit alcohol-induced child murder, the narrative provides a previously overlooked and convincing offering to Victorian studies of defective paternity, drunkenness and domestic masculinity. This paper will explore how working-class masculine brutality was reassigned and symbolically used as a means of understanding masculine domestic dysfunctionality.

Emily Bowles’s paper explores some of the earliest biographies of Dickens and how they each attempted to solidify a calculated image of the author, from the very first memorial volume that appeared only a month after his death written by the notorious pornographer John Camden Hotten to John Forster’s controlled (and controlling) Life-and-Letters-style offering. The post-mortem parrying that Dickens’s friends and family conducted gives us better insight into the politics of Victorian biography, as well as deeper understanding of the Dickens ‘myth’ as it exists today.

Location: Seminar room BS/008, Berrick Saul Building

Admission: All welcome