Article

The Christian Church

Matthew Bradley

in Victorian Literature

ISBN: 9780199799558
Published online March 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199799558-0057
The Christian Church

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The changes and challenges to religion are one of the defining features of the Victorian period and its literature, and these continue to be one of the key literary-critical loci in scholarly discussion. From the very public debates that arose out of advances in biblical criticism and the biological and geological sciences, to the various radical movements that either came to prominence in the Victorian era (the High Church revivalism of the Tractarians, for example) or moved into controversial new phases (Evangelicalism, among both Anglicans and nonconformists), the Christian Church remained one of the focal points for writers throughout the 19th century. The range of literary engagements with religion in the period are extremely diverse; from the well-known “long, melancholy withdrawing roar” of Matthew Arnold’s Sea of Faith in “Dover Beach,” to George Eliot’s translations of Strauss and the influence of Higher Criticism on her fiction, to the modes of evangelical and Calvinistic Christianity rejected by Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. In recent years, besides looking beyond the traditional canon of Victorian writers, particular critical attention has been paid to the idea of religious faith as providing an important aesthetic framework for the expression of feeling, the shared discourse/rhetoric of the theological and the literary, the historical importance of religious groupings to the writing of Victorian literature, and the ways in which religion in the period allowed for the construction of new gender identities, and the expression of alternative sexualities.

Article.  8382 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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