Snagging the Book of the Year!

At every NAVSA, as with most academic conferences, there are tables run by academic booksellers, offering discounts on great books. This is an important practice because most academic books have small print runs and are usually only purchased by libraries. Those of us still trying to establish ourselves just don’t have the income to buy all the ones we want to buy. In addition, it’s a great opportunity to connect with editors and to discuss your own work.

At one of these tables the “book of the year” as decided by NAVSA was for sale and I managed to be the first to reserve a copy so I was lucky to bring the display copy home with me. Slow Print: Literary Radicalism and Late-Victorian Print Culture by Elizabeth Carolyn Miller was published by Stanford University Press in 2013 in a beautiful hardcover edition.

Cover of Slow Print by Elizabeth Carolyn Miller

Here’s what the publisher has to say about the book.

“This book explores the literary culture of Britain’s radical press from 1880 to 1910, a time that saw a flourishing of radical political activity as well as the emergence of a mass print industry. While Enlightenment radicals and their heirs had seen free print as an agent of revolutionary transformation, socialist, anarchist and other radicals of this later period suspected that a mass public could not exist outside the capitalist system. In response, they purposely reduced the scale of print by appealing to a small, counter-cultural audience. “Slow print,” like “slow food” today, actively resisted industrial production and the commercialization of new domains of life.

Drawing on under-studied periodicals and archives, this book uncovers a largely forgotten literary-political context. It looks at the extensive debate within the radical press over how to situate radical values within an evolving media ecology, debates that engaged some of the most famous writers of the era (William Morris and George Bernard Shaw), a host of lesser-known figures (theosophical socialist and birth control reformer Annie Besant, gay rights pioneer Edward Carpenter, and proto-modernist editor Alfred Orage), and countless anonymous others.”

The book offers an important history of the socialist movement in Britain through from the perspective of publication. Miller’s book is a solid historical study of an important moment in literary history as well.

You can purchase the book directly from Stanford University Press here

In addition to Miller’s book, I also recommend some of the authors she discusses as well.

1. William Morris. You can read all of his works in their original Kelmscott editions at William Morris Archive. Follow this link

Autobiographical SketchesNews from Nowhere

2. Broadview Press offers editions of William Morris’s News from Nowhere (1890) and Annie Besant’s Autobiographical Sketches (1885) Letters. Purchase those editions in print, pdf, or etext versions at this link


3. Edward Carpenter is more challenging to find. Most of his work is now out of print. The last quality editions of his works were published by the Gay Men’s Press in the 1980s, including Towards Democracy, Love’s Coming of Age, and The Intermediate Sex. If you can find an edition at second-hand book shops, that would be much better than the print on demand stuff available on Amazon. His work is out of copyright so The Internet Archive would be a good source too – check out the link to your right on this site. Finally, there is The Edward Carpenter Archive. – this site offers versions of some of his work in full text. Others, only highlights. It’s a start. If you want to know more about the man, then I recommend the recent autobiography by Sheila Rowbotham, Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love (2009) which can be purchased directly from the publisher, Verso, here

That’s all for now. Keep reading!

Vickie and Eddie.




The Victorians: Sexuality and Gender


This is a fantastic lecture by Professor Richard J. Evans of Gresham College on Sexuality and Gender issues in Victorian England. This is a topic that takes of a great deal of my own time and research. I am particularly interested in how reactions to sexual discourse are replaced by acts of violence. Oh the papers I will write when my dissertation is finally done!

This is a great history lesson for anyone who is interested in the history of masculinity, the division of labour by gender in the nineteenth century in reaction to industrialization, and the rise of feminism in the mid- to late-nineteenth century.

I will warn you that the lecture is recorded on what seems to be a home video recorder. In other words, the visual quality is limited. However, I think his delivery and his visual examples make up for the lack of HD.

Happy Weekend!

A Musical Instrument

A selection from the wonderful Academic website Representative Poetry Online. A link to their main page is listed to the right. My source for the poem is available by clicking on the title. This is one of my favorite Victorian poems. It is as if the poet’s muse has violated her body. Nature’s inspiration is cruel. I like teaching this poem because it allows the class to discuss the complex emotions, feelings, and ideas that go into the process of creation. Birthing art, if you will, is an event worthy of the reader’s pause.  (NOTE: my version seems to be loading onto the page with strange page breaks. I highly recommend that readers visit the Representative Poetry Online website for its proper formatting. My version is simply here for enjoyment.)

“A Musical Instrument” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

1 WHAT was he doing, the great god Pan,
2    Down in the reeds by the river ?
3 Spreading ruin and scattering ban,
4 Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
5 And breaking the golden lilies afloat
6    With the dragon-fly on the river.

7 He tore out a reed, the great god Pan,

8    From the deep cool bed of the river :
9 The limpid water turbidly ran,
10 And the broken lilies a-dying lay,
11 And the dragon-fly had fled away,
12    Ere he brought it out of the river.

13 High on the shore sate the great god Pan,

14    While turbidly flowed the river ;
15 And hacked and hewed as a great god can,
16 With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed,
17 Till there was not a sign of a leaf indeed
18    To prove it fresh from the river.

19 He cut it short, did the great god Pan,

20    (How tall it stood in the river !)
21 Then drew the pith, like the heart of a man,
22 Steadily from the outside ring,
23 And notched the poor dry empty thing
24    In holes, as he sate by the river.

25 ` This is the way,’ laughed the great god Pan,

26    Laughed while he sate by the river,)
27 ` The only way, since gods began
28 To make sweet music, they could succeed.’
29 Then, dropping his mouth to a hole in the reed,
30    He blew in power by the river.

31 Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan !

32    Piercing sweet by the river !
33 Blinding sweet, O great god Pan !
34 The sun on the hill forgot to die,
35 And the lilies revived, and the dragon-fly
36    Came back to dream on the river.

37 Yet half a beast is the great god Pan,

38    To laugh as he sits by the river,
39 Making a poet out of a man :
40 The true gods sigh for the cost and pain, —
41 For the reed which grows nevermore again
42    As a reed with the reeds in the river.

The Oscholars

The Oscholars was the first online academic community I joined. I sent an email to the administrators and then, I was in! Oscholars is a solid online community of scholarly journals, an active listserv, and a source for community updates – especially information pertaining to the fin de siècle.

The website features journals dedicated to Oscar Wilde (hence the “O” in Oscholars), Michael Field (aka Edith Cooper and Katherine Bradley), John Ruskin, fin-de-siècle and Edwardian theatre (UPSTAGE), Vernon Lee, and other New Woman and Aesthete artists and writers. In addition, there are calls for papers for various related conferences, monographs, and journals.

The listserv, however, is my favourite feature. Follow the conversation threads to find out what other people are researching. Follow people who seek original editions or participate and for questions you many have the answers, share your own knowledge. Ask your own questions to the members. Everyone on the listserv is helpful in his or her advice. We are fortunate to share a strong community of scholars who help one another in the attempt to strengthen our field. As I said in my “About” section of this site, scholarship is a joint effort – no one is in a bubble. We need to share each other’s journeys with each other if with want to thrive independently as scholars.

Rivendale Press – an excellent little English publisher of scholarship in late-nineteenth century scholarship, operates the site.

When looking for the link to Oscholars to the right of the screen, be sure to scan the other links listed to see what else is out there that may be of help to you and your passions.

That is all for now. Keep on loving the Victorians and Edwardians and thank you for your visit!