Visual Culture

Sophia Andres and Kathlyn Cosper Dunagan

in Victorian Literature

ISBN: 9780199799558
Published online April 2012 | | DOI:
Visual Culture

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Encompassing such diverse disciplines and fields as fine and applied arts, art, literature, science, photography, theater, and early cinema, Victorian visual culture is far ranging, complex, and multifaceted. The invention of illustrated press and photography disseminated information about the arts and sciences, England, and the colonies. Scholars such as Kate Flint (see Flint 2000, cited under General Overviews) explore the problematics of external and internal vision and their impact on representations and interpretations. A study of visual culture must take into consideration key Victorian figures who addressed the subject in several of their works as well as modern critics on Victorian artists, movements, and genres; representations of race and orientalism; modern visual technologies; visual perception; and psychology. General overviews of the subject include historical accounts of the Great Exhibition and the establishment of national galleries, while others deal with broad surveys of the visual arts and their impact on various aspects of Victorian culture. Theoretical perspectives on the subject vary from multidisciplinary approaches to poetry, science, art, architecture, politics, and history to discussions of the coalescence of the verbal and the visual in the novel and in poetry, as well as the significance of the relationship between text and illustrations. Covering the rise of literary painting, some works examine the market dynamics, periodical criticism, and poetic influences on Victorian art, while others examine the reciprocal forces that impacted literature and art or the interdisciplinary connections between images and words in illustration. Quite a few works are devoted to women artists, their works, their training, and the conditions they had to overcome to be accepted by mainstream culture. Yet other studies, devoted to landscape painting, explain the Victorian nature aesthetic or the problematic relationship between English landscape painting and socioeconomic changes during the Industrial Revolution. Visual culture and science is the topic of several recent studies ranging from the role of illustrations in the works of Charles Darwin to his relationship with artists and photographers as well as Darwin’s influence on literature, art, and culture. Attributing the origins of the cinema and the theater to the Victorian obsession with the visual, scholars also discuss the social concerns that these forms of visual culture represent.

Article.  8821 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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