Household Words Christmas edition

For a festive end to the module, you might like to take a look at the 1850 Christmas edition of  Household Words. The edition draws together many of the themes that we have been looking at in the module. If you look at the table of contents page, you will see the interplay between concerns of the nation and global: jostling side-by-side there are pieces on Christmas in London, India, the “frozen regions”, and the Bush.

One particularly mobile piece is “A Christmas Pudding“, which follows the “mercantile history” of the ingredients in an imaginative tour around the world, from Malaga oranges Malaga, nutmeg from the spice Islands, Smithfield suet, to Irish eggs.

Meanwhile the piece on “Christmas in India” shows the exoticized appeal of empire, as the opening lines marvel at the incongruity of the idea:This is all framed within a context of the domestic nation, however: from the opening nostalgic reflections on a Christmas tree, to the closing lines of Christmas carols, the edition works to contain the global within the national sphere, while entertaining and enjoying its appeal.


Week 11

File:William Booth, In Darkest England and the Way Out, 1890, Cornell CUL PJM 1104 01.jpg

By William Booth [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The text referenced in yesterday’s lecture was William Booth’s In Darkest England and the Way Out (1890), and a copy can be found here. Above is the illustration that
shows the relationship between Booth’s 3 colonies, and the various issues and themes that he raises along the way – if you follow the link there’s a copy on which you can zoom in to the detail.

Following on from last week and the travel writing context of Haggard’s She, the British Library has a brief piece on H. M. Stanley’s In Darkest Africa including a couple of images from the text.


The afterlives of Haggard’s She


Cover image (artist unknown) from a 1911 edition; see here

H. Rider Haggard’s She has perhaps the most interesting visual afterlife of any of the texts on this module.

There have been many richly illustrated editions of the text – you might want to think about why the text invites such fascination among artists. Visual Haggard shows the publication and illustration history in the late 19th – early 20th century. Throughout the 20th century, the many different cover illustrations also tell a narrative about the ongoing history of gender and empire – this is a quick snapshot from a google image search, as there are too many to show in detail, showing the intersection of empire and sexuality as a key theme:CR6aiCcWoAAIz2h

There is also a rich film history as well. The earliest is this 1911 silent film which includes the remarkable (if slightly horrifying) depiction of Ayesha in the fire (at 23 mins in).

In 1935, a feature-length film She combines elements from Haggard’s four She novels: She: A History of Adventure (1886-7), Ayesha: The Return of She (1905), She and Allan (1921), and Wisdom’s Daughter (1923). This makes for an odd narrative, combining many of the central elements of the original She, but set in Arctic Siberia, where the civilization of Kor is located deep underground.


Finally the 1965 film played heavily on the sexual imagery surrounding Ayesha, who is played by Ursula Andress, accompanied by John Richardson as Vincey and Peter Cushing as Holly:



For the next seminar, think about following aspects of She:

– the representation of landscape, in particular chapters 11 and 16;

– how might you interpret the figure of Ayesha?

– How does the representation of Ayesha correlate with the landscape?

Week 9: Empire and masculinity in African travel narratives


The documentary that we watched in class today is this 1965 BBC programme in which David Attenborough retraces the route of David Livingstone along the Zambezi river. Livingstone’s route is one of the key moments of nineteenth-century exploration, and Attenborough follows it reflecting on the topography and cultures. As we discussed in class, the film is revealing in how it unquestioningly adopts Livingstone’s perspectives on Africa and is steeped in imperial discourse.

The whole documentary can be watched here. The clips that we watched were roughly 3 minutes 55 seconds in, and 9 minutes 55 seconds in.

I have written a longer post about the film, featuring some more images of the Great African Travellers book that I handed around in class, on my research blog here.





In preparation for the seminar on She, consider the following areas:

the narrative strategies that the text uses and why;

the representation of masculinity: what tropes  of ideal masculinity does the text establish?

The representation of Africa; how does it function as a space?

questions for week eight

  • think about Eliot’s representation of Jewish characters in the novel: how are Daniel, Mirah, and Mordecai represented differently?
  • What you make of Daniel’s final mission as an ending to the novel? How does the ending compare to other texts that we have studied?
  • What do you make of Gwendolyn’s growth and evolution throughout the novel?

Week 7: Daniel Deronda

batoni-lord copy

Charles Joseph Crowle, ca.1761-62, Pompeo Batoni

The full text of Matthew Arnold’s “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time” can be read here.

The image above is of a typical 18th century Grand Tourist (Batoni painted many similar images). Some further illustrations of Victorian tourists to Europe are shown in this collection of pictures of Thomas Cook’s history, and this Princeton University site on 19th century travel.

George Eliot’s bicentenary is in 2019 and there are various events going on if you are interested.

Daniel Deronda questions for week 7

Ahead of the seminar next week, some topic areas to think about:

  • the representation of Europe and its relation to Britain in the novel; how does it figure in relation to the themes of nation/Empire that we have discussed so far?
  • What issues of national identity does the novel raise, and how?
  • How does the novel think about national identity in relation to location/geography?

We will be looking particularly at the opening scenes of the novel, as well as Mirah’s story in chapter 20, and Daniel’s movements in chapter 33.