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On Wednesday the 14th of May, we held a joint session with the Twenty-First Century Research group. Our topic was Neo-Victorianism, and we were fortunate enough to have two excellent scholars come and talk to us about their work.

The first was Professor Angela Thody, who discussed the patterns of similarity between Victorian modes of education and developments in the late twentieth- and early twenty-first centuries. Angela provided us with a quiz at which, humble reader, I must admit that I did very badly. She also regaled us with song, which was a first for the Nineteenth-Century Research group!

 

o-RIPPER-STREET-570

 

Our second speaker was Dr. Benjamin Poore from the University of York. Ben spoke to us about Neo-Victorianism on television, focusing on ‘Sherlock Holmes, Ripper Street, and the Neo-Victorian Detective in Print and on Screen’. Ben discussed the reasons for the popularity of Victorian detective figures today, analysed the complexities of these portrayals, and provided us with a brilliant definition of steampunk as ‘retro-futurism’.

 

This was the final session of the year, and so we are now looking for suggestions for meetings and events in 2014-2015. If you would like to suggest anything, or to volunteer, please email the organisers at hfield@lincoln.ac.uk and/or oclayton@lincoln.ac.uk.

The University of Lincoln is investing over half a million pounds in new strategic research opportunities, including fully-funded PhD studentships to start in September 2014, and three of the available studentships include active members of the Nineteenth-Century Research Group on the supervisory team.

Professor Lucie Armitt, Dr Rebecca Styler, and Dr Martin Eve (all Humanities) are open to candidates proposing nineteenth-century research topics for the studentship ‘Gothic: Literary Travel and Tourism‘.

Dr Jim Cheshire (Art & Design) and Dr Hannah Field (Humanities) invite book-historical proposals related to the Tennyson Research Centre for ‘Tennyson in His Library: Reading, Writing, and Collecting Books in the Nineteenth Century‘.

Dr Kate Hill (Humanities) and Dr Anna Catalani (Architecture), whose proposed studentship is entitled ‘British Archaeology in the Nineteenth Century: Between Antiquarianism and Science‘, encourage applicants interested in investigating the history of British archaeology in the nineteenth century.

Details of application processes. funding packages, and a full list of studentships here.

Dawn Correia, a PhD candidate in the School of Art and Design here at Lincoln, presented work-in-progress on 12 March. Dawn’s PhD focuses in particular on the kaleidoscope designs of the natural philosopher and inventor Sir David Brewster (1781–1868), whose own intentions for a primarily scientific use of the kaleidoscope were eclipsed by its popularity as a toy and fashionable amusement. Utilising often neglected sources, including patents and scientific treatises, and high-profile collections of kaleidoscopes at the Museum of the History of Science at Oxford, the University of Exeter, and the Whipple Museum of the History of Science at Cambridge, Dawn traced historical, material, and theoretical contexts for the kaleidoscope in the period.

In addition to her doctoral work, Dawn is an artist-practitioner. Since 2010, her design practice has embraced her historical research into optical philosophical instruments; this is expressed through her creation of optical mixed-media small-scale sculptural pieces using ceramics, glass, and wood.

Carpenter kaleidoscope and cells. Photograph © Dawn Correia 2011. Courtesy of National Museums Scotland.

Carpenter kaleidoscope and cells. Photograph © Dawn Correia 2011. Courtesy of National Museums Scotland.

 Ricardo title-page

In a talk for the group on 19 February, Matt discussed his new research concerning John Stuart Mill’s private library and the Victorian reader. He focused most of his paper on annotations made by Mill’s father James in the copy of David Ricardo’s Essay on the Influence of a Low Price of Corn on the Profits of Stock (1815) in the library. (The library, which has been little discussed, is held by Somerville College, Oxford.) These annotations represent an interesting resource for the book historian because, while early notes show James Mill trying to make sense of Ricardo’s argument, the tone of the marginalia shifts as Mill reads. The voice in the margins changes from one that is self-directed, to one that is directed at Ricardo with public understanding in view. Matt connected this to the concern shared by John Stuart Mill, James Mill, Ricardo, and other nineteenth-century thinkers as to the manner in which economic theory should be brought to market. Moreover, he argued that the library itself, by incarnating the sharing of ideas and multiple readerships, provides a fitting metaphor for this endeavour.

Matt is a lecturer in English at Magdalen College, Oxford; he also currently teaches on the Georgian literature and ‘Dis-Locations’ modules here at Lincoln. Look out for his essay on Dombey and Son in the 2014 Dickens Studies Annual.

At top: the title-page to the second edition of Ricardo’s Essay (Bodleian Library copy).

Hello all, happy New Year! Our programme for the next months is as follows:

19 February: ‘J. S. Mill’s Library and the “Marketplace of Ideas”’. Dr Matthew Kerr, English Faculty, University of Oxford. Room MB1001.

12 March: ‘The Kaleidoscope and Mental Labour in the Nineteenth Century’. Dawn Correia, PhD candidate in Art and Design, University of Lincoln. Room MB1001.

14 May: Joint session on Neo-Victorianism with the 21st-Century Research Group. Programme TBA; confirmed speakers include Dr Benjamin Poore, Department of Theatre, Film, and Television, University of York. Room MC0024. 

Meetings either take place in the MHT Building (rooms beginning MC) or the Main Admin Building (rooms beginning MB). Campus map here. All welcome! 4 p.m. refreshments; 4.15 p.m. start.

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