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Conflict and difference in nineteenth-century literature

Birch, Dinah and Llewellyn, Mark, eds. (2010) Conflict and difference in nineteenth-century literature. Palgrave McMillan. ISBN 9780230221550

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Abstract

How should we understand Victorian cultural conflict? The Victorians were fiercely disputatious, divided between multiple views of the political, religious and social issues that motivated their changing aspirations. Such debates are a fundamental aspect of the literary culture of the period, and the essays in this collection propose new ways of understanding their significance. Ranging from detailed readings of key literary figures (Browning, Collins, Dickens, Eliot) to explorations of cross-period themes (the philosophical roots of conflict; dreams and psychology; consumption; imperialism and race) or specific literary movements or moments (Chartism; journalism; writing of the Afghan War; New Woman novels), they address diverse areas of intellectual inquiry about what mattered most to the Victorians. These essays speak collectively in arguing for a reinterpretation of literary and cultural conflict through a greater critical awareness of the productive analyses available within such debates over difference in the period. The aim is not to resolve conflicted cultural moments or movements, but to explore the slippages and instabilities which so fascinated, intrigued and inspired the Victorians themselves.