Jessica Cox

in Victorian Literature

ISBN: 9780199799558
Published online April 2012 | | DOI:

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Neo-Victorianism can be divided into two distinct categories: creative works that in some way engage with Victorian literature and culture, and scholarly works that seek to explore the shifting relationship with the Victorian period since its close in 1901, often through a critical investigation of Neo-Victorian creative works. It is with this latter category that this bibliography is concerned. Although critical discussions of historical fiction and film set in or engaging with the Victorian period have a long history, Neo-Victorianism, as an academic discipline, is a relatively new phenomenon. The plethora of Neo-Victorian creative works that have emerged in the last twenty years or so have led to increasing debate over the contemporary fascination with the Victorians and their art, literature, and history. In the course of these debates, a number of critical terms have been posited to describe this genre, including Post-, Retro- and Neo-Victorian. But in the last few years, particularly following the establishment of the online journal Neo-Victorian Studies in 2008, “Neo-Victorian” has become the favored term. Neo-Victorianism is now firmly established as a genre for scholarly investigation, though debates around what exactly constitutes a Neo-Victorian work continue. A number of scholars have argued that not all works that employ a Victorian setting can be identified as Neo-Victorian and that the term implies a “knowing” engagement with the period. According to this definition, works that employ the period merely as backdrop are excluded from the Neo-Victorian genre, and thus issues of inclusion and exclusion are potentially problematic. Critical debates have also examined the origins of the genre of Neo-Victorian works. Various critics locate the 1960s as the period in which the literary genre emerges, citing Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) and John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969) as early examples of the Neo-Victorian novel. This association with the 1960s also serves to reinforce the genre’s links with Postmodernism. However, as the genre has continued to expand, there has been an acknowledgment that its origins are earlier than this. Works predating Rhys’s novel include Robert Graves’s The Real David Copperfield (1933), Virginia Woolf’s Freshwater (1935), Michael Sadleir’s Fanny by Gaslight (1944), and Marghanita Laski’s The Victorian Chaise-Longue (1953), while stage and film adaptations of Victorian literature have an even longer history, raising questions about the necessary chronological distance between the Victorian and the Neo-Victorian. In some respects, there remains a distinction between screen and literary studies, marking two specific trends within Neo-Victorianism. However, an increasing number of critical works engage with both of these, as well as with other areas of scholarship, such as cultural studies.

Article.  11734 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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