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Come Buy, Come Buy

Shopping and the Culture of Consumption in Victorian Women's Writing

Krista Lysack

Publication Year: 2008

From the 1860s through the early twentieth century, Great Britain saw the rise of the department store and the institutionalization of a gendered sphere of consumption. Come Buy, Come Buy considers representations of the female shopper in British women’s writing and demonstrates how women’s shopping practices are materialized as forms of narrative, poetic, and cultural inscription, showing how women writers emphasize consumerism as productive of pleasure rather than the condition of seduction or loss. Krista Lysack examines works by Christina Rossetti, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, George Eliot, and Michael Field, as well as the suffragist newspaper Votes for Women, in order to challenge the dominant construction of Victorian femininity as characterized by self-renunciation and the regulation of appetite.

Come Buy, Come Buy considers not only literary works, but also a variety of archival sources (shopping guides, women’s fashion magazines, household management guides, newspapers, and advertisements) and cultural practices (department store shopping, shoplifting and kleptomania, domestic economy, and suffragette shopkeeping). This wealth of sources reveals unexpected relationships between consumption, identity, and citizenship, as Lysack traces a genealogy of the woman shopper from dissident domestic spender to aesthetic salonière, from curious shop-gazer to political radical.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv

CONTENTS

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pp. v-

ILLUSTRATIONS

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pp. vii-

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. ix-x

I would like first to thank Mary Wilson Carpenter, my doctoral advisor at Queen’s University, whose counsel I continue to cherish. I am also grateful to Linda H. Peterson for her advice and unstinting support over the last several years. To Maggie Berg, I express my...

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Introduction DANGER, DELIGHT, AND VICTORIAN WOMEN’S SHOPPING

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pp. 1-14

When Rochester takes Jane Eyre to a silk warehouse in Millcote and insists that she select six boldly colored dresses for her trousseau, his governess proves an unwilling and resistant shopper. Refusing the “brilliant amethyst dye, and a superb pink satin” he would foist upon...

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One GOBLIN MARKETS Women Shoppers and the East in London’s West End

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pp. 15-43

In a Max Beerbohm caricature, a fashionably dressed Dante Gabriel Rossetti implores his plain sister, Christina, to choose something more fetching to wear. The Rossettis are apparently home-shopping in Dante’s studio, surrounded...

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Two LADY AUDLEY’S SHOPPING DISORDERS

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pp. 44-79

The year after Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret (1862) appeared in volume form, Henry Mansel published “Sensation Novels,” a Quarterly Review essay in which he accused sensation writers of...

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Three MIDDLEMARCH AND THE EXTRAVAGANT DOMESTIC SPENDER

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pp. 80-108

As George Eliot prepared to publish the first edition of Middlemarch in 1871, she was also poised to take a gamble. Eliot’s ambitions for the novel extended beyond the scope of its composition, with its nuanced...

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Four TO THOSE WHO LOVE THEM BEST The Erotics of Connoisseurship in Michael Field’s Sight and Song

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pp. 109-135

In his cover design for the first prospectus for The Yellow Book, Aubrey Beardsley depicts the front of the Bodley Head’s shop in Vigo Street, including its large windows stocked neatly with books for sale (fig. 4.1). Standing in the background...

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Five VOTES FOR WOMEN AND THE TACTICS OF CONSUMPTION

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pp. 136-170

With many others she had been ordered to patrol Bond Street, and to watch her opportunity of doing as much damage as she could to the shop-windows. . . . The orders were that the women...

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Afterword BECOMING ELIZABETH DALLOWAY

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pp. 171-178

In the course of this study, a shopping excursion of one kind or another has formed the introduction or conclusion to most of the chapters. These anecdotes have ranged from Jane Eyre’s anxious deliberations in a silk warehouse to....

NOTES

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pp. 179-216

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 217-230

INDEX

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pp. 231-238


E-ISBN-13: 9780821442920
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821418116

Publication Year: 2008

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • English literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism.
  • Women consumers in literature.
  • Shopping in literature.
  • Femininity in literature.
  • Identity (Psychology) in literature.
  • Consumption (Economics) -- Great Britain -- History -- 19th century.
  • Consumption (Economics) in literature.
  • English literature -- Women authors -- History and criticism.
  • Women consumers -- Great Britain -- History -- 19th century.
  • Shopping -- Great Britain -- History -- 19th century.
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