Call for Papers – Special Issue of Victorian Periodicals Review: “The Material Culture of Victorian Domestic Life and the Press”

Guest Editor, Julie Codell

The Victorian press actively shaped Victorians’ notions of domestic life around several topics: material culture, architecture, interior design, and the gendering of domestic space. Deborah Cohen’s Household Gods (2009) and Thad Logan’s The Victorian Parlour (2006) both articulate a critical analysis of Victorian domestic life joined with material culture studies to go beyond the stereotypes of cluttered rooms and gendered “separate” spaces. Recently Jane Hamlett’s Material Relations (2010) continues the exploration of how people lived at home through a study of their material goods. Scholars such as John Potvin have explored interior design in relation to orientalism, sexual orientation, and modernity in a flood of now well-established material culture studies sparked by Daniel Miller, Judith Attfield, and others. In addition to the many coffee table books on Victorian interiors and furnishings are new readings of Victorian authors Isabella Beeton, Charles Eastlake, and Mary Eliza Haweis on domestic taste and furnishings, as well as a neo-Victorian fascination with Victorian design, food, cooking culture, and household management.

Despite this literature, there are still many understudied areas in the periodical press:

  • working-class domestic lives,
  • rural home decoration and furnishing in relation to urban design and furnishings,
  • the ways Britons recreated British domestic life in the colonies,
  • prescriptions of family roles,
  • the home as both private and public,
  • the changing role of the manor house in the development of national cultural identity,
  • the physical organization of domestic space,
  • changes in laws, aesthetics, and gender and class relations (e.g., the 1882 Married Women’s Property Act, the 1870 Education Act, Aestheticism, the department store, the New Woman) that introduced new objects, designs, family relations, gender roles and spatial structures in the home,
  • advertising and illustrations of furnishings and the material page.

This list is not meant to restrict but to suggest topics. This CFP seeks to elicit essays on the press’s role in the production of domestic life as an ideal and a set of practices functioning across class and the geography of Britain and the colonies. We encourage authors to address the texture of conflicting views on how to conduct and represent domestic life within individual periodicals and across periodicals that contained different ideologies, intentions, and readerships. We welcome proposals on the structures and spaces of domestic life examined and prescribed in a range of periodicals—the women’s press, architecture journals, general periodicals, the art press and other specialized or trade periodicals.

Please submit a 300-word abstract outlining your proposed contribution by December 1, 2016, to Final drafts of essays selected for inclusion in the special issue will be due July 1, 2017. These essays should be 5,000–9,000 words in length (including notes and bibliography) and should be formatted in Chicago style.

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