Through the Wrong End of the Telescope: Holman Hunt at The Art Gallery of Ontario

The Ontario Art Gallery’s new curatorial practices are challenging to those of us who’ve had a sensible middle school education in art history. Years of studying visual culture has helped me silence my internal philistine, but when I am daunted, thrilled, or over-stimulated by the AGO’s eclectic thematic groupings, I can hear the voice of my ten year-old self asking why we can’t just look at the works of art in chronological order. I suspect William Holman Hunt would understand the Gallery’s novel curatorial vision and would disapprove of my inner philistine, since neither Hunt’s paintings nor the AGO’s exhibit, Sin and Salvation: Holman Hunt and the Pre-Raphaelite Vision, are bound by chronological dogmatism. Continue reading “Through the Wrong End of the Telescope: Holman Hunt at The Art Gallery of Ontario”


Reading, Writing, Gossiping, Blogging

In an 1860 article, Victorian critic F.T. Palgrave likens Victorian novels to social conversation. He explains that contemporary readers “go to books for something almost similar to what they find in social conversation. Reading tends to become only another kind of gossip” (488). He writes with a certain degree of nostalgia for the past, when readers from a century earlier looked for “amusement of a kind higher and more amusing than could be expected from living gossip” (488). Continue reading “Reading, Writing, Gossiping, Blogging”

Animals in the City: Wilkie Collins’s Heart and Science

I have just finished reading Wilkie Collins’s novel Heart and Science (1883). One of the things I was most struck by was the presence of animals in the world of the novel. In its exploration – and dichotomizing – of “heart and science,” the novel focuses on the issue of vivisection so animals obviously play an important thematic role. But in setting the stage for the horrific experiments happening behind closed laboratory doors, Collins populates London itself with animals, both domestic and captive. Continue reading “Animals in the City: Wilkie Collins’s Heart and Science”

Serialized Reading, in Two Parts. Part I.

A guest post from Emily Simmons

Currently I am both reading and not-reading Wilkie Collins’s The Law and the Lady.  Our Nineteenth-century reading group has undertaken an approximation of the serialized reading experience this summer with a sensation novel. The novel was originally serialized in weekly installments in The Graphic between September 1874 and March 1875.  Continue reading “Serialized Reading, in Two Parts. Part I.”

Finding Hope in Victorian Studies

I thought I’d use my first blog post to introduce some of the ideas that have lately preoccupied my thoughts about Victorian culture. These ideas hover around their attitudes towards change. To my mind, Victorian Britain was the first community to endure what Walter Benjamin called “the crisis of experience,” that state of shock brought about by the interruptive time-consciousness of modernity. Continue reading “Finding Hope in Victorian Studies”