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The Dynamics of Genre

Journalism and the Practice of Literature in Mid-Victorian Britain

Dallas Liddle

Publication Year: 2009

In The Dynamics of Genre, Dallas Liddle innovatively combines Mikhail Bakhtin’s dialogic approach to genre with methodological tools from periodicals studies, literary criticism, and the history of the book to offer the first rigorous study of the relationship between mid-Victorian journalistic genres and contemporary poetry, the novel, and serious expository prose. Liddle shows that periodical genres competed both ideologically and economically with literary genres, and he studies how this competition influenced the midcentury writings and careers of authors including Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Harriet Martineau, Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, and the sensation novelists of the 1860s. Some Victorian writers directly adopted the successful genre forms and worldview of journalism, but others such as Eliot strongly rejected them, while Trollope launched his successful career partly by using fiction to analyze journalism’s growing influence in British society. Liddle argues that successful interpretation of the works of these and many other authors will be fully possible only when scholars learn to understand the journalistic genre forms with which mid-Victorian literary forms interacted and competed.

Published by: University of Virginia Press


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p. vii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-12

In the past twenty years it has become conventional wisdom among literary historians and scholars that magazines, reviews, and newspapers were the discursive context and physical medium of most important British literature in the nineteenth century. Agreement on this intimate relationship between periodicals and literary texts has become widely shared...

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1. THE POET'S TALE: Literature, Journalism, and Genre in 1855

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pp. 13-45

As book 3 of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s verse novel Aurora Leigh (1856) opens, its poet-protagonist is a moderately successful woman of lett ers in mid-nineteenth-century London. Aurora Leigh’s reflections on her early professional career are oft en celebrated as among the first artistic portrayals of a British woman writer...

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2. THE AUTHORESS'S TALE: The Triumph of Journalism in Harriet Martineau's Autobiography

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pp. 46-72

In her recent review essay on new books about Harriet Martineau, scholar Deirdre David is positive, but pensive. Something is missing in the available accounts of this remarkable Victorian woman of letters, she writes; of the four books she reviews, “none deals quite fully enough with that aspect of her work for which the definitive reading...

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3. THE EDITOR'S TALE: Anthony Trollope and the Historiography of the Mid-Victorian Press

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pp. 73-97

In the last chapter I called attention to the desirability of a map of Victorian genres, which would show their relative positions and competitive relationships at different points during the century. It is easy to foresee the value this kind of “Galilean” map of genre interactions could have for literary and historical scholarship, but less easy to see how data...

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4. THE REVIEWER'S TALE: George Eliot and the End(s) of Journalistic Apprenticeship

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pp. 98-121

If the relationship between journalistic forms and the major works of Anthony Trollope and Harriet Martineau is only now and gradually being recognized, the same can certainly not be said for George Eliot. The first useful handlist of Trollope’s journalism did not appear until 1983, and a selected edition...

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5. THE CLERGYMAN'S TALE: Sensation Fiction and the Anatomy of a "Nine Days' Wonder"

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pp. 122-140

The three major genres of writing called “sensational” in Great Britain in the 1860s—the sensation novel, the sensation drama, and sensational newspaper journalism—are now usually considered parallel and complementary projects, even as variations on the same cultural theme. Documenting a “direct relationship...

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6. THE SCHOLARS' TALES: Theories of Journalism and the Practice of Literary History

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pp. 141-160

This book has studied specific relationships between Victorian writers and the forms of mid-Victorian journalism, but has also tried to suggest more broadly how book history and the study of print culture might benefit from Mikhail Bakhtin’s insight that the dynamic interactions between genres are a powerful engine of literary history...

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EPILOGUE: The Tale of the "Owls": Literature, Journalism, and Genre after 1865

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pp. 161-176

This project has focused on a dozen years of British book history aft er 1855, studying relationships between journalistic and literary discourses in just that era. I have kept within those bounds, though the rest of the nineteenth century presents many equally significant interactions between literature and the press, because (as I will discuss below)...

APPENDIX A: Correspondence Sections of the Monthly Repository, vol. 17, nos. 201–3, September–November 1822

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pp. 177-178

APPENDIX B: Representations of the Periodical Press in Anthony Trollope's Works

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pp. 179-186


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pp. 187-212


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pp. 213-224


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pp. 225-234

E-ISBN-13: 9780813930428
E-ISBN-10: 0813930421
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813927831
Print-ISBN-10: 0813927838

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 755621987
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Dynamics of Genre

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Authors and publishers -- Great Britain -- History -- 19th century.
  • English literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism -- Theory, etc.
  • Journalism and literature -- Great Britain -- History -- 19th century.
  • Influence (Literary, artistic, etc.).
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