The Victorian era is famous for the collecting, hording, and displaying of things; for the mass production and consumption of things; for the invention, distribution and sale of things; for those who had things, and those who did not. For many people, the Victorian period is intrinsically associated with paraphernalia.
This collection of essays explores the Victorians through their materiality, and asks how objects were part of being Victorian; which objects defined them, represented them, were uniquely theirs; and how reading the Victorians, through their possessions, can deepen our understanding of Victorian culture. Miscellaneous and often auxiliary, paraphernalia becomes the ‘disjecta’ of everyday life, deemed neither valuable enough for museums nor symbolic enough for purely literary study. This interdisciplinary collection looks at the historical, cultural and literary debris that makes up the background of Victorian life: Valentine’s cards, fish tanks, sugar plums, china ornaments, hair ribbons, dresses and more. Contributors also, however, consider how we use Victorian objects to construct the Victorian today; museum spaces, the relation of Victorian text to object, and our reading – or gazing at – Victorian advertisements out of context on searchable online databases.
Responding to thing theory and modern scholarship on Victorian material culture, this book addresses five key concerns of Victorian materiality: collecting; defining class in the home; objects becoming things; objects to texts; objects in circulation through print culture.