CALL FOR CHAPTERS FOR EDITED VOLUME
Marginalised Edwardians and the Struggle for Symbolic Power
Edited by Lauren O’ Hagan, Cardiff University
This volume will explore ‘ordinary writing’ – that is, ‘writing that is typically unseen or ignored and is primarily defined by its status as discardable’ – as an important new way in which to approach the power and identity of marginalised groups in Edwardian Britain (1901-1914). The Edwardian era is often described as a period of intense social conflict and upheaval marked by a heightened awareness of class consciousness, inequality and poverty. Vast social, political and economic changes led to an increasing mobilisation of the lower classes and women, while also bringing about a rise in the number of anarchists and revolutionaries. Many of these changes, in turn, created an increasing distrust of and hostility towards the ‘other’: foreigners, Catholics, Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and the poor were all the target of widespread discrimination. Despite their internal differences, all of these groups had one thing in common: they used writing in a bid to voice resistance and obtain symbolic forms of power.
The editor invites chapter proposals involving high quality research drawing on diverse methodologies that advance the study of ordinary writing as a rebellious act of power in Edwardian Britain. In particular, research related to any of the following groups or inscriptive acts are welcomed:
- The working classes; Irish nationalists; suffragettes; children; prisoners; socialists/communists; workhouse poor; Catholics; Jews; foreigners, particularly Germans and Eastern Europeans; gypsies; homosexuals; black people
- Postcards; coins; schoolbooks; graffiti; marching banners; political posters; diaries; autograph books; calling cards; visitors’ books; scrapbooks; embroidery
D. J. Sheppard, Theodore Wratislaw: Fragments of a Life (The Rivendale Press, 2017)
Was there ever a more 1890s-sounding character than Theodore Wratislaw? His surname sounds like a Beardsley drawing: the craggy ‘wrati’ leading into the sinuous ‘slaw’. If that isn’t enough, his middle name ‘Graf’ hints at possible connections to the Bohemian nobility: a useful foil for a poet whose birthplace was the town of Rugby in Warwickshire. To those who haven’t read their copies of The Yellow Book or The Savoy too closely, Theodore Wratislaw seems invented – qualities that clearly endeared him to Max Beerbohm, whose famous fictional 1890s hero ‘Enoch Soames’ contained at least a ‘dash’ of Wratislaw.
Theodore Wratislaw (1871-1933) was, however, not only very real, but – as D. J. Sheppard’s excellent new biography reveals – shared Beerbohm’s fate of living the vast majority of his life outside of the decade in which he achieved passing notoriety. The question of what happened to the main players of the 1890s in the 1900s and beyond has always been a fascinating one. Beardsley, Wilde, Dowson and Johnson were all dead by 1902, leaving the survivors of the decade to either trade in nostalgia for the rest of their lives (as Beerbohm did, to some extent), or try to forge a new identity for the coming century Continue reading
‘Line of Life’ by William Shackleton, 1915 (Tate)
Proposals are sought for an essay collection entitled ‘The Occult Imagination in Britain, 1875-1947’, to be proposed to Ashgate’s new Among the Victorians and the Modernists series. Focusing on the development, popular diffusion, and international networks of British occulture between 1875-1947, the interdisciplinary volume will capitalize on the recent surge of scholarly interest in the late Victorian occult revival by tracing the development of its central and residual manifestations through the fin de siècle and two world wars. We aim to challenge the polarization of Victorian and modernist occult art and practice into discrete expressions of either a nostalgic reaction to the crisis of faith or a radical desire for the new. The collection will also map the affinities between popular and elite varieties of occultism in this period, recognizing the degree to which esoteric activities and texts relied on and borrowed from the exoteric sphere. Continue reading
Anne Fernihough, Freewomen and Supermen: Edwardian Radicals and Literary Modernism (Oxford University Press, 2013)
Flicking through the suffragist journal Votes for Women (1907-1918) today, a striking feature is the amount of space dedicated to advertisements for suffragist merchandise. ‘Wonderful Bargains in Electioneering Gowns’, announces an advertisement from January 1910, listing dresses with such names as ‘The Mildred’, ‘La Russe’, and ‘The Moscow’. In later issues there are suffragist banners, items of jewellery, and, perhaps most delightfully, Christmas crackers in suffragist colours (one wonders at the gifts and jokes they may have contained). Such merchandise, of course, helped to raise valuable funds and broaden the profile of the cause; harder to explain are the advertisements for ‘yougourt agents’, with accompanying articles extolling the health benefits of this vegetarian food. At first glance these advertisements can appear rather anachronistic: yogurt is hardly a convenient snack to take on a march, and does not obviously signify one’s suffragist allegiance in the same way as a ‘Votes for Women!’ pendant in purple, white and green. Yet during the Edwardian era radical politics and a healthy diet were often part and parcel of the same thing: a desire to attain an apparently higher, more evolved and more humane state of being.
The relationship between progressive thinking and individual development is the subject of Anne Fernihough’s exciting new study, Freewomen and Supermen: Edwardian Radicals and Literary Modernism. Continue reading
The latest volume of International Ford Madox Ford Studies is titled ‘The Edwardian Ford Madox Ford’. According to the publishers the volume ‘focuses on Ford’s work from the Edwardian decade and a half before the First World War. It contains Michael Schmidt’s Ford Madox Ford Lecture, and fourteen other essays by British, American, French and German experts, both leading authorities and younger scholars. Chapters on Ford’s fiction, poetry, criticism of literature and painting, writing about England, and dealings on the Edwardian literary scene as editor and with publishers, bring out his versatility and ingenuity throughout his first major creative phase’. For more information see the publisher’s pages.
For more on Ford Madox Ford see the Ford Madox Ford Society.
William Rothenstein, ‘Aliens at Prayer’, 1905
David Glover, Literature, Immigration, and Diaspora in Fin-de-Siècle England: A Cultural History of the 1905 Aliens Act (Cambridge University Press, 2012)
The Edwardian era, as noted in the catalogue to the recent exhibition Edwardian Opulence, witnessed a ‘colossal torrent of political, social, economic, and cultural change’. Though some of these changes were reflected in the visual examples selected for the exhibition – such as John Byam Shaw’s haunting canvas The Boer War (1900) – other issues, such as immigration, were overlooked. Yet it was during the Edwardian period that the first modern law to restrict immigration into Britain was passed. The 1905 Aliens Act was a highly significant event in British history (one contemporary referred to it as a ‘revolution in national policy’), and is the subject of a recent study by the literary scholar, David Glover.
Though the Aliens Act was ostensibly designed to restrict the influx of all ‘undesirable aliens’, regardless of nationality or cultural background, it was in essence a response to a particular crisis: the substantial growth of Jewish immigrants to Britain following the Russian pogroms of the 1880s and early 1900s. In British culture, the so-called ‘alien’, argues Glover, was almost indistinguishable from ‘the Jew’, and the two must be considered together. In this sense, David Glover’s book follows on from several excellent studies of Jewish immigration and its representations, most notably ‘The Jew’ in late-Victorian and Edwardian culture: between the East End and East Africa (Palgrave MacMillan 2009). Continue reading
Elizabeth von Arnim: Beyond the German Garden by Isobel Maddison (Ashgate 2013)
Type ‘Victorian Literature’ into Google, noted Simon J. James in his keynote lecture for ‘Beyond the Garden Party’, and you’ll find almost eight-million search results for sites hosting scholarly journals and university-affiliated projects. Try the same thing with ‘Edwardian Literature’ and you’ll get just over a million hits, the first of which is a Facebook page. It has six ‘Likes’.
The perception of Edwardian literature – particularly Edwardian fiction – as a literary backwater seems always to have been with us. As early as 1923 Virginia Woolf was pinpointing the Edwardian era as ‘the fatal age’ in literature, naming and shaming ‘Mr Wells, Mr Galsworthy, and Mr Arnold’ as ‘the culprits’ of this literary demise. Such dismissals have proved surprisingly difficult to shake off, no more so than in the case of female Edwardian novelists (who, tellingly, Woolf’s ‘Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown’ didn’t even bother to cite). Continue reading