Abstract

Abstract:

This article addresses the rise of vigil in Victorian literature, a phenomenon that both reinforced and grew out of the period’s commitment to the moral importance of concentration. Drawing together poetic formalism, Victorian religious literature, and the growing critical field of attention studies, I trace the contours of vigilance as it appears in the writings of John Henry Newman and the poetry of the most prolific Victorian innovator of the vigil form, Christina Rossetti. I suggest that we understand vigil in Victorian prose and poetry as not merely thematically engaged in attentiveness, but also as actively encouraging attentive reading practices. In treating reading as a training ground in lengthy mental absorption, writers sought to reinforce habits of concentration during an age of waning attention spans.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2052
Print ISSN
0042-5222
Pages
pp. 608-628
Launched on MUSE
2019-12-30
Open Access
No
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