Portraiture and British Gothic Fiction
The Rise of Picture Identification, 1764–1835
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Cover and Front Matter
List of Illustrations
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This book would never have been written without Catherine Spooner. I was busy researching intersections between Victorian fiction and the rise of mass picture identification when she suggested that I take a look at first-wave Gothic fiction. It turned out to be the mother ship of literary picture identification; thus, what...
Note to the Reader
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This book shares with The Recess an interest in the “great mystery” of portraiture and, more specifically, in how first-wave British Gothic fiction and contemporaneous discourses mythologized the rise of mass picture identification between 1764 and 1835,1 a process that photography would complete in the early...
1. Theory and/of Picture Identification
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We have seen that, in spite of picture identification’s global ubiquity in establishing social identity today and current academia’s keen interest in identity, picture identification is addressed rarely in literary and cultural studies or by the theories that inform them. Before the theoretical turn, academics neglected picture...
2. The Politics of Picture Identification
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However, these are not princes, but princely through wealth. Similarly, when Knox asserts that “there is many a nobleman, according to the genuine idea of nobility, even at the loom, at the plow, and in the shop and many more in the middle ranks of mixed society” (“Illustrious Birth” 58), these are adjectival, metaphorical...
3. “The Age of Portraiture” and the Portraiture of Politics
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Art historians are unanimous in designating the eighteenth century “the age of portraiture” in Britain, a period when internationally celebrated painters, most notably Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, and Thomas Lawrence, established the first distinctive national art since medieval Gothic times. A letter to...
4. Matriarchal versus Patriarchal Picture Identification
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Gothic fiction further challenges aristocratic ideology by critiquing primogeniture and patriarchal power over progeny. When procreative success produces a surplus population, patriarchs seek to control their progeny’s procreation, forcing marriages to strengthen landed power and sentencing surplus children...
5. Portraits, Progeny, Iconolatry, and Iconoclasm
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Gothic fiction makes much of the aristocratic tradition that renders portraits and progeny parallel imaged afterlives of forebears (see chapter 2). Progenitors are the relative “originals” of both progeny and portraits: “I examined her features; they bore a striking resemblance to the picture. But no wonder—the original was...
6. Identifying Pictures
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Joining political and aesthetic attacks on idealist representation is a growing sense that “undue reverence for antiquity” opposes “the progress of true knowledge.” “Antiquity” represents aristocratic authority; “true knowledge” gestures to bourgeois sources of power. Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man (1791–2) champions...
7. Pictures Identifying
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Picture identification runs not only between the writing and reading of portraits but also between the words and images within portraits, establishing social identity intersemiotically. While the picaresque novel Gil Blas (1715–35) declares that “neither the picture nor the letters will convince me” (Le Sage 2.217, Smollett’s...
8. Iconism and the Aesthetics of Gothic Fiction
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Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century scholars, authors, and readers are keenly concerned with the pictorial properties of verbal language, particularly with the capacities of words to raise mental images. One term for this is iconism. The OED (1989) offers two definitions: “A representation by some image or figure...
9. Desiring Picture Identification
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Iconophilia takes many forms, including veneration of religious icons, adoration of celebrity images, lust for pornography, ardor for pictures of lovers, affection for family portraits, and the connoisseurship of art. While the OED in 1989—somewhat uncharacteristically—allows only the last definition, a periodical writer...
10. Fearing Picture Identification
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In recent definitions of iconophobia, including the OED’s, phobia has, somewhat perplexingly, come to signify solely hatred, displacing the fear that figures equally, if not more prominently, in its etymology. Both appear in the OED’s definition of phobia—“A fear, horror, strong dislike, or aversion; esp. an extreme or irrational...
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Still examining monuments, still gazing on pictures, I start involuntarily from the view, uneasily aware that there is a great deal more to be said and that it cannot be said here. This book has emphasized uses of picture identification to promote middle-class ascendancy because my research indicates that this is the primary...
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Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 16 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2012