University of Basel, Nadelberg 6, Lecture Hall
Department of English
Crime, Passion and Adventure: Victorian Popular Fiction, Counter-Discourses and Literary Sociology
In nineteenth century Britain, literacy spread among ever growing circles of the population. While prose fiction was popular among all classes, there were initially quite distinct markets and types of fiction for the working and the middle classes: sensational crime and mystery stories in particularly cheap formats at one end of the spectrum and the ‘serious’ and expensive realist novel at the other. The popular narratives provided a platform for questioning the dominant middle-class ideologies of the time, particularly the master-discourse of domesticity. In the later Victorian period, the distinction between the book markets faded, and a middle-class readership increasingly solicited the topics previously associated with the lower sections of both the print market and society. In this lecture, I attempt to combine a discourse-theoretical approach with insights from book history and literary sociology.
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