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Ouida: journalism, cosmopolitanism and the aesthetics of place

Ouida: journalism, cosmopolitanism and the aesthetics of place

King, Andrew ORCID: 0000-0003-2348-4231 (2014) Ouida: journalism, cosmopolitanism and the aesthetics of place. In: RSVP 2014: Places, Spaces, and the Victorian Periodical Press, 12-13 Sep 2014, University of Delaware, DE, USA. (Unpublished)

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The popular novelist and journalist Ouida (18391908) lived in Italy from 1871, with only one brief visit to London in 1886-7. While she had participated in public debates in the press since the late 1860s, from 1878 her sustained engagement with protest journalism began with articles in the Whitehall Review and letters in The Times about what we now call conservation and heritage, particularly of the modernisation of Florence (on the outskirts of which she lived) and of Rome. Her impact was substantial enough to generate numerous replies in the Times and elsewhere, and even a cartoon in Fun lampooning her insistence on the need for urban beauty and the preservation of history. Ouida believed she was arguing at root for individual happiness and pleasure over managerial and corporate efficiency and profit; however, she is not known to have written about the modernisation of London (or, say, Paris), so the question suggests itself of what her relationship to place in this journalism might be: how far can her rejection of Italian modernisation be linked to the imperial tourist gaze towards an aestheticized South, where peasants, decay and slums are merely opportunities for the generation of picturesque and sentimental narratives and points of view that would be untenable for Italians? This paper will seek to answer that question by examining the responses to Ouida’s denunciation of modernisation in English and Italian, while at the same time looking at her vexed relationship to cosmopolitanism. How far is it possible to argue that Ouida was arguing not from a northern imperialist perspective or indeed from a local one determined to save specific Italian antiquities for Italians, but from a feeling that the preservation of heritage was essential for a post-national, cosmopolitan, future history?

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Additional Information: [1] Paper for 2014 Research Society for Victorian Periodicals conference, held at the University of Delaware, 12-13 September 2014. The conference theme is “Places, Spaces and the Victorian Periodical Press.”
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ouida, space, place, cosmopolitanism, heritage
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
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Last Modified: 03 Jan 2020 12:33

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