"How the Victorian Novel Got Realistic (in a French way), Reactionary, and Great"
The Victorian novel wasn't all that great from about 1850 to about 1970. It lacked form, endings weren't tragic, and narrators intruded too much. The critical demands on the novel, from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century are dramatic and anti-narrative--that is mimetic, and
anti-diegetic. The Victorian novel starts to get great as strong theories of narration arrive in Anglophone criticism: from France. The narrators who had been a blight become sly and powerful, formal hijinks are smoothed out into something that gets called realism (but not the Victorian
kind, which was often not a good thing), and the novel is enclosed in a diegesis that promises social solidity, or so the story goes. This talk will try to disrupt the fictions and will tell about some of our fictions, especially the central ones of the nineteenth century.
Elaine Freedgood (Professor of English, NYU) is the author of The Ideas in Things: Fugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel (Chicago, 2006) and Victorian Writing about Risk: Imagining a Safe England in a Dangerous World (Cambridge, 2000). Her current book project is entitled Worlds Enough: Fictionality and Reference in the Novel.
Reception to follow.
Histories and Futures of Publication
An interdisciplinary speaker series in manuscript, print, and digital cultures.
Sponsored by the Simpson Center for the Humanities, the Textual Studies Program, UW Libraries, the Information School, Modern Language Quarterly, and the departments of Classics, Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media, English, and French & Italian.
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