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Victorian Popular Fictions Today: “feel these words as mama does!”

Victorian Popular Fictions Today: “feel these words as mama does!”

King, Andrew ORCID: 0000-0003-2348-4231 (2019) Victorian Popular Fictions Today: “feel these words as mama does!”. Victorian Popular Fictions, 1 (1):1. pp. 6-34. ISSN 2632-4253 (Online)

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This article is in two parts. The first seeks to set an agenda for the study of Victorian popular fiction by examining what the field comprises today in terms of texts studied, methodologies and affective engagement, and then thinking through the implications of studying such fiction today in a global and remediated context. I argue that Victorian sentimental popular fiction self-consciously models processes of relationship formation and exploration in its characters, its explicit scenes of reading, and above all in its plots, in order to mould and maintain readers’ relationships to it. “Sympathy” and its interrogation defines both the representation of characters’ relations to one another and readers’ relationship to that representation. It is a textual technique used by the fiction industry to create and maintain customer loyalty. Our affective responses to this technique constitute one reason we, as students of a still marginal field, continue to read it with energy and enthusiasm. What we need to do is self-consciously think through the implications of this energy’s rootedness in the commercial imperatives of the nineteenth-century publishing industry. Part 2 offers two case studies to examine that call, one very famous and the other virtually unknown, by American women writers whose work circulated globally: Susan Warner and E.D.E.N. Southworth. I ask what the ethical and methodological implications might be for the checking of our pleasure through what neuroaesthetics calls “cognitive elaboration.”

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Victorian popular fiction, sentimental fiction, reading, affect, neuroaesthetics, ethics, empathy, sympathy, marriage, education, globalisation, remediation, gender, religion, ethnicity, fiction industry, women writers, Southworth, Warner, utopianism
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS)
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > Literature & Drama Research Group
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Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 03:44

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