Book

The Victorian Eye

Chris Otter

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780226640761
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226640785 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226640785.001.0001
The Victorian Eye

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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During the nineteenth century, Britain became the first gaslit society, with electric lighting arriving in 1878. At the same time, the British government significantly expanded its power to observe and monitor its subjects. How did such enormous changes in the way people saw and were seen affect Victorian culture? To answer that question, this book mounts an ambitious history of illumination and vision in Britain, drawing on extensive research into everything from the science of perception and lighting technologies to urban design and government administration. It explores how light facilitated such practices as safe transportation and private reading, as well as institutional efforts to collect knowledge. And it contends that, contrary to presumptions that illumination helped create a society controlled by intrusive surveillance, the new radiance often led to greater personal freedom and was integral to the development of modern liberal society.

Keywords: nineteenth century; Britain; illumination; vision; lighting; perception; surveillance; lighting technology; urbanization; electric lighting

Book.  392 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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