(HOBAR) Open University History of Books and Reading Seminar

(HOBAR) Open University History of Books and Reading Seminar
12 February 2018, 5.30pm - 7.00pm
Room 243, Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Chris Louttit (Radboud University - NIjmegen, Netherlands)

After Serialisation: Adapting the Mid-Victorian Novel for Later Audiences

Scholars of nineteenth-century print culture have frequently emphasised the significant influence of serialisation on the content, form and reception of the Victorian novel. In recent years, the serials culture of the period has become more accessible through digital archives and a number of serial reading projects. As some have noted, however, serialisation was not the only form in which Victorian and subsequent readers engaged with the era’s fiction. With this in mind, this paper explores the neglected popular, posthumous editions of the works of mid-century writers such as Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell and William Makepeace Thackeray that appeared in the 1870s and 1880s. Often released simultaneously in part and volume form, these hybrid editions complicate a straightforward distinction between volume and serial and alter the dynamics of serial reading associated with the original parts. Close analysis of the physical appearance and reception of these editions reveals, moreover, that they both update and adapt the mid-Victorian novelists to suit a later generation of readers and also help shape the sometimes uncertain reputation of these authors between their deaths and the spate of centenary celebrations and editions in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Chris Louttit is Assistant Professor of English Literature at Radboud University in Nijmegen in the Netherlands. His research and teaching focuses on mid-Victorian fiction, and he has particular interests in practices and theories of authorship, illustration studies, paratextuality and the popular reception of the Victorians in fiction, film, television and on the stage. Recent articles include pieces in Adaptation, Critical Survey, Book History and Neo-Victorian Studies. He is currently co-editing a 2018 special issue of Neo-Victorian Studies with Erin Louttit called ‘Screening the Victorians in the Twenty-First Century’, and working on a 2018 issue of Nineteenth-Century Prose with Larry Mazzeno on ‘Dickens’s Non-Fiction Prose’.


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