restricted access Teaching Illustrations and Periodicals: Three Scholars Share Their Ideas and Materials
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Victorian Periodicals Review 39.4 (2006) 365-382

Teaching Illustrations and Periodicals:
Three Scholars Share Their Ideas and Materials

If you set out to find scholars who bring radically different interests to the field of periodical scholarship, you would not have to look any farther than the three of us, which is partly why we decided to join forces for this submission. Leigh Dillard is an eighteenth-century scholar who works primarily in the history of the book and print culture; Nancy West is a Victorianist who moonlights in film studies; and Pat Okker specializes in nineteenth-century American literature, particularly the history of the periodical. As different as we are, however, we share an interest in teaching illustrations and the illustrated novel, particularly as they appeared in their original newspaper and magazine contexts.

Leigh is committed to expanding the critical discussion of illustrated novels, which has been largely monopolized by Victorianists, by including works of the late eighteenth-century in her classroom and by pressing her students to see the connections between William Hogarth and a range of nineteenth-century writers beyond Dickens. She also regards the periodical as one of three important contexts–along with illustrations and the eighteenth-century anthology–that can broaden our approach to teaching the British novel. Nancy comes at the periodical through an interest in illustration as well; noting that graphic fiction forms a key component of many Victorian periodicals, she urges us to approach this genre with an eye toward media specificity and intertextuality. And Pat suggests that there are productive ways to teach students about images in periodicals even if you are not trained in visual theory or art history.

We offer here assignments for three different, advanced undergraduate courses, all of which include periodicals and illustrated fiction as key components. We also include a syllabus for a graduate seminar. [End Page 365] Preceding these assignments are descriptive profiles of each of us, intended to offer suggestions and to express concerns to those readers who, like us, want to make illustration an important part of their classroom.

Leigh Dillard

I trace my entry into the Victorian illustrated periodical through the eighteenth century. Since my first reading of Fielding's Tom Jones and my concurrent introduction to the narrative art [End Page 366] of William Hogarth in an eighteenth-century graduate seminar, I have been interested in the interrelation of image and text. This early interest in visual and verbal interaction has revealed a larger set of concerns both for my research and teaching that question the contemporary context of the novel by considering the internal and external forces at work in the publication medium. Internal elements include a range of visual and verbal considerations–illustrations, page design, paratextual features, and competing textual content; external concerns hinge on packaging–serialization, periodization, and collected fiction as methods of dissemination. In all, these paired perspectives encourage a reading of the text not only for its narrative but also for its presence as a material object. Students are brought closer to the novel's contemporary context through an interaction with these internal and external considerations; at the same time, they realize that the novels they read in a single neatly-bound volume often appeared differently to their original audience. The Victorian periodical in particular provides easy access to this alternative way of reading and is ideally suited for my interest in the novel's contemporary and material contexts.

My ongoing interrogation of illustrated fiction seeks to shift the focus of this discussion back to its pre-Victorian roots. Amid the crowded market of essay miscellanies such as The Tatler, The Spectator, and Gentleman's Magazine, serialized fiction does exist in the eighteenth century though with much less regularity than in the Victorian period.1 As with the neglected field of eighteenth-century novel illustration, illustrated serial fiction similarly deserves closer attention. More common in the eighteenth century are early examples of collected or anthologized...