Creative Commons License
Victorians Institute Journal Annex content in NINES is protected by a Creative Commons License.
Peer Reviewed

*Table of Contents*: VIJ Digital Annex, Volume 38

Ellen Rosenman, University of Kentucky

About the Project


Linda Fleming and Edward Cohen
“A Scottish Dozen: Uncollected Poems by Marion Bernstein”

[Originally published: The Victorians Institute Journal, Volume 37 (2009): Victorian Scotland ]
Terry L. Meyers
“An Interview with William Morris, September, 1885: His Arrest and Freedome of Speech”

[Originally published: The Victorians Institute Journal, Volume 19 (1991) ]
Terry L. Meyers
“William Morris on Prostitution: A Letter of August 17, 1885”

[Originally published: The Victorians Institute Journal, Volume 31 (2003)]


Best of “By the Numbers”: VI 2010 Conference Paper Abstracts

Jana Smith Elford
“’Elevating Influence’: Victorian Literary History by Graphs”

We present here some reflections on the use of a prototype tool for visualizing literary history, OrlandoVision, in order to explore the potential of network graphs to investigate women’s literary history. In particular, we focus on the visual representation of feminist writers involved with the Theosophical Society at the Victorian fin de siècle. Our approach involves extracting data from Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Aisles from Beginnings to the Present in order to graph relationships and patterns of political activity. Although our tool is still in development, our results suggest that digital graphing methods have the potential to enable what Moretti calls “distant reading” to operate in conjunction with historical detail (1). Furthermore, they suggest that OrlandoVision enables the discovery of relationships unforeseen by the scholar, which one might not have been able to search for using the methods already available through Orlando’s current online interface.
Laurence Shafe
“The Quantification of Beauty”

The mid-nineteenth century was a period when many theories of beauty were debated, including those that reduced it to rules of form and color. A leading proponent of this approach was David Ramsey Hay, whose work became part of the standard programme for art training and so influenced many designers and artists. One such artist was Albert Moore, whose sketches at the Victoria & Albert Museum suggest that this may have been the source of his mathematical approach and decorative ideas. This aesthetic project can be contrasted with the dissolution of form brought about partly as result of Charles Darwin’s "cultivation of the 'relative' spirit in place of the 'absolute.'" Hay’s mathematical systematization of beauty was therefore not only a precursor to the repetitive patterned surfaces of the design reform movement but also an influence on the conflicting theories of beauty implicit in the art of the Aesthetic Movement.
Jill Rappoport
“Jane’s Inheritance” (excerpted from Giving Women: Alliance and Exchange in Victorian Culture, forthcoming from Oxford University Press)

When Jane Eyre inherits twenty thousand pounds, her newfound wealth allows her to bypass a number of restrictions on women’s property rights. By exploring the mechanisms by which she receives and redistributes such an immense gift, her motivations for generosity, and the nature of the newly reconstituted family that she so richly endows, this essay shows how Jane transforms a patriarchal inheritance into a means of establishing kinship outside of conventional marriage and closer than bloodlines or common law would otherwise dictate. Against a legal landscape which prevented women from transferring property, the deferment of Jane’s wedding makes possible her fleeting possession of twenty thousand pounds and her subsequent gift of fifteen thousand, allowing her to benefit her cousins and limit the wealth that her future husband will acquire. Through Jane’s gift and its eventual concealment from Rochester, the novel re-imagines women’s economic agency and its potential for constructing family ties.
Jonathan Farina
““The New Science of Literary Mensuration”: Accounting for Reading, Then and Now”

This essay sketches the emergence of counting as a generic feature of Victorian criticism of the novel in David Masson’s 1859 British Novelists and their Styles and sundry nineteenth-century periodical reviews and articles on the statistics of publication. I claim that Masson and other practitioners of “the new science of literary mensuration” (from Victorians to Franco Moretti and users of Google Ngram) produce “a supply-side” literary history that substitutes statistics about literary production for the ephemeral, incommensurable work of literary consumption—for the feelings and immaterial impressions of reading that cannot be measured or seen.
Meredith Martin
“Counting Victorian Prosodists: Productive Instability and Nineteenth Century Meter”

By recording and quantifying the variety of approaches to metrical theory in the nineteenth century, contemporary scholars could learn a great deal from Victorian scholars of prosody like Edwin Guest, Coventry Patmore, and George Saintsbury. Their attention to the mutable, contentious, and contingent approaches to prosody, variable and ideological as any grammar, is, I will argue, a useful guide for our own historical prosodic methodologies. Rather than assuming that the main prosodic discord concerned accent versus quantity, as twentieth century accounts would have it, a look at the ways prosodists historicized their own positions in the field of grammar, science, belles-lettres, and the growing field of English literature enriches and nuances our approaches to prosody in general and verse form in particular in the nineteenth century.
Leslie Haynsworth
“All the Detective's Men: Binary Coding of Masculine Identity in the Sherlock Holmes Stories”

Binary coding of identity—Madonna/whore, civilized/savage, etc.—has long been understood as a rhetorical containment strategy, a way for the privileged to keep the disempowered even more firmly in their place. But what are we to make of the ideological work being performed through such binary coding when its subjects are male and of the privileged class? In this essay, I explore—with particular attention to the popular Sherlock Holmes stories—Victorian detective fiction’s recurring tendency to posit and foreground a binary tension between domestic and imperial masculinities. Given that detection’s most manifest purpose is to elucidate the distinction between normative (safe) and deviant (dangerous) subjectivity, I argue that this particular instance of binarism registers less as a will to power than as a manifestation of insecurity, less as a mechanism for social control than as a yearning for a functional interpretive framework that can help to explain what normative masculine subjectivity is actually supposed to look like in an age when the requisites of domestic culture and of the imperial project seemed to call for very different kinds of masculine ideals.
Congratulations to Alex Chase-Levenson, whose essay “Digging Up Numbers: Archaeology, Spectacle, and the Ancient Near East in Britain, 1820-1860” won the graduate student prize awarded by VIJ. An expanded version of his essay will be included in Volume 39 of Victorians Institute Journal.