Transatlanticism’s “radical claims”

I also attended the fascinating NAVSA session that Connie writes about: a conversation on “New Directions in Victoran Studies” between Amanda Claybaugh, Elaine Freedgood, Caroline Levine, John Plotz, and Andrew Stauffer.  I wanted to respond to Connie’s post here because, like Connie, I have also been considering Amanda Claybaugh’s claim that adhering to national boundaries in our study of literature is, at best, arbitrary, and, at worst, misleading.  Continue reading “Transatlanticism’s “radical claims””


The Victorian Atlantic

I’ve been musing about transatlanticism since last year’s NAVSA conference. At one of the concluding panel discussions Amanda Claybaugh suggested that the Victorians’ orientation towards the United States is hard for us to grasp if we only focus on the literature of the United Kingdom. Continue reading “The Victorian Atlantic”

Archive Fever, Part Two

One question I get from friends and family a lot when they hear I’m travelling to look at the diaries and letters of a little known woman writer is, “Why don’t they just put it all up on the internet?” I try to explain how much you get from seeing the physical manuscript—that ink colours,watermarks, and the type of stationery can all be clues as to the date and circumstances of composition. Continue reading “Archive Fever, Part Two”

Character-Building: Disraeli and the “Physiognomy of Writing”

Emily’s fascinating post on Sublime Penmanship works hand in glove with research I’ve been conducting on graphology in Victorian Britain, as part of a chapter on the role of handwriting in R. L. Stevenson’s Jekyll & Hyde. The first book-length study of handwriting analysis was published in 1622 by Camillo Baldi, an Italian doctor of medicine and philosophy. However, the most broadly read text within England upon the subject was most likely the Swiss pastor Johann Kaspar Lavater’s Physiognomy. (Published in German in 1775, this study had gone through fifty-five editions by 1810, at least twenty of which were available in England.) Continue reading “Character-Building: Disraeli and the “Physiognomy of Writing””

Community-building through Victorian Deaf Periodicals (and Victorianist Blogs?)

As we begin this blogging journey, I am looking forward to participating in new networks of thinkers, writers, and readers with my fellow Floaters here at the Floating Academy and other bloggers and commenters in the academic blogosphere. This formation of an online network among those who share common interests, and how that network contributes to the formation of new communities has many historical precursors, of course, but the resemblance I keep coming back to is one that is related to my research in Victorian Deaf and Disability Studies. Continue reading “Community-building through Victorian Deaf Periodicals (and Victorianist Blogs?)”

Sublime Penmanship

A guest post by Emily Simmons

This week my research has taken me on a brief foray into the cultural history of handwriting. I’d like to think about the forms and functions of handwriting in a print culture.  How, for example, might penmanship education and practice have changed in an age where print was prevalent, but hand-written letters were still the main form of daily correspondence? Or, how might would-be authors have viewed handwriting (or been judged by it) as they composed with an eye to ‘getting into print’? Continue reading “Sublime Penmanship”