Victorian Vulgarity: Taste in Verbal and Visual Culture

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Susan David Bernstein, Elsie Browning Michie
Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2009 - History - 259 pages
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"Originally describing language use and class position, vulgarity became, over the course of the nineteenth century, a word with wider social implications. Variously associated with behavior, the possession of wealth, different races, sexuality and gender, the objects displayed in homes, and ways of thinking and feeling, vulgarity suggested matters of style, taste, and comportment. This collection examines the diverse ramifications of vulgarity in the four areas where it was most discussed in the nineteenth century: language use, changing social spaces, the emerging middle classes, and visual art. Exploring the dynamics of the term as revealed in dictionaries and grammars; Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor; fiction by Dickens, Eliot, Gissing, and Trollope; essays, journalism, art, and art reviews, the contributors bring their formidable analytical skills to bear on this enticing and divisive concept. Taken together, these essays urge readers to consider the implications of vulgarity's troubled history for today's writers, critics, and artists." --Book Jacket.
  

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Contents

Introduction Varieties of Vulgarity
1
Social Mobility MiddleClass Diction
17
On Making a Spectacle of Oneself in Pickwick
35
WorkingClass Politics in London
55
Vulgar Christianity
71
George Gissing and
85
Too Common Readers at the British Museum
101
Jewish Materialism and Spiritual
119
Anthony Trollopes
139
Vulgarity Stupidity and Worldliness in Middlemarch
169
Vulgarity in The Picture
185
James Tissots Coloured Photographs of Vulgar Society
201
Imperial Reversals
223
Afterword How Victorian Was Vulgarity?
241
Index
253
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Bernstein teaches literature and women's studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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