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Michael Hancher / Victorican Studies: Illustrated Periodicals

English 8330
Victorian Studies:
Illustrated Periodicals

Fall 1995 / Wednesdays, 2:45-5:00
Lind Hall 202 / Michael Hancher

This seminar will explore periodicals published in the early decades of the nineteenth century, before and after the beginning of the Victorian era, as literacy was becoming normal.
Three periodicals, all of them featuring illustrations, will receive special attention:

  • Rudolf Ackermann's Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics (1809-1828). Ackermann was the major publisher of luxurious color-plate books. The Repository appealed to men and (mostly) women of fashionable taste--even including tipped-in fabric samples. It has been paid little attention by scholars, despite Ackermann's acknowledged importance.

  • The Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1832-1845). The Penny Magazine was the first mass-market magazine, and the first magazine to make extensive use of illustrations. Its intended audience was literate artisans and laborers; its purpose was to improve the minds and discipline the behavior of a potentially unruly class. For a recent account see Patricia Anderson, The Printed Image and the Transformation of Popular Culture, 1790-1860 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1991).

  • The Illustrated London News (1842- ). Less refined than Ackermann's Repository, more complacent than the Penny Magazine, the Illustrated London News found lasting success as the epitome and mirror of middle-class British culture. Though still mined as a picture archive, the ILN itself has received relatively little scholarly attention.
All students in the seminar will explore at least one volume of each of these journals for minor class reports. However, major class reports and seminar papers may draw upon any journal, illustrated or not, published in Great Britain between 1800 and 1850. (For a handlist of such journals held by the University of Minnesota Libraries, see British Periodicals at Minnesota: The Early Nineteenth Century.)

A possible seminar project would be to identify one or more journal articles from the period that deserve an audience today, and prepare a scholarly edition for publication on the World Wide Web.

Critical resources for this seminar include Investigating Victorian Journalism, ed. Laurel Brake, Aled Jones, and Lionel Madden (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990); Laurel Brake, Subjugated Knowledges: Journalism, Gender and Literature in the Nineteenth Century (London: Macmillan, 1994); and Victorian Periodicals Review (1968- ). Mason Hammond's The Pictorial Press: Its Origin and Progress (London, 1885) bears reconsideration more than a century after it was published. Recent theoretical works about relations between text and image will also apply. See selected bibliography.


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Michael Hancher

Department of English, University of Minnesota

URL: http://umn.edu/home/mh//prosvsil.html

Comments to: mh@maroon.tc.umn.edu

Revised 21 September 1995

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