The Art of Beauty: To rouge or not to rouge

Throughout our corpus of nineteenth-century novels, there are numerous references to the transformative power of cosmetics. As well as striving to survive the noxious levels of lead and arsenic in your potions and pastes, you are also tasked with achieving socially acceptable levels of rouging. According to Madam Lola Montez’s 1858 book The Art of Beauty or…

Image of the Week: Back to School

After a successful round of summer events and the official launch of the Nation, Genre, Gender project,  it’s almost back to school time. First things first, a new uniform…        

Insult of the Week: “the big slobbering washing-pot head of him”

In chapter two of  Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Cranly and Stephen discuss the latter’s plans for the future. During their exchange, Cranly recalls Stephen’s wrangling with a school acquaintance about the shortest way from  the Sallygap to Larras. A voice spoke softly to Stephen’s lonely heart, bidding him go and telling him that…

How One Author’s Bankruptcy Changed the History of the English Novel Forever

In the teens of the 19th century, Walter Scott was enjoying a wave of financial success as a novel-writer that was perhaps unprecedented in the history of literature.  His series of historical novels, published under the pseudonym “The Author of Waverley”, were selling in huge numbers, and his fans were legion, including – among others…

Works in Progress: our collection

This year’s IASIL conference was fascinating and thought-provoking, as well as being a whole lot of fun, and I think we’re all still processing the excellent feedback we received!  Many things to think about! One specific request we received was for there to be a list of the works that we’ve analysed so far.  Which…

Nursing mothers: an image collection

In honour of World Breastfeeding Week 2016 (a day late – but better late than never!), here is a small collection of vintage public-domain images of women nursing their babies, from the British Library Labs and Internet Archive images collections. ix An honourable mention must also go to Gillray’s 1796 “The Fashionable Mamma“, which I…

Insult of the Week: may his head rot off

In chapter 15 of Bleak House, the narrator Esther Summerson and her guardian Mr. Jarndcye encounter Mr. Gridley, a passionate man from Shropshire, who is embroiled in a labyrinthine court case that has permanently soured his view of the legal system.  Although Esther (who is herself a ward in Chancery) and Mr. Jarndyce have not,…

A Portrait of the Project: our official website is announced!

I’m delighted to announce that the Nation, Genre and Gender Project’s official website is now up and running! We created this site (in association with Vermillion Design) in order to showcase some of what we do here at Nation, Genre and Gender, when we’re not overthinking Jane Austen’s novels or identifying weird gender tropes in…

Insult of the Week: inferior poets are absolutely fascinating

Ah, poetry.  One of the great literary forms, with a history stretching back as far as the earliest written word!  Beloved genre of such giants as Sappho, Homer, Chaucer, and the anonymous author of The Poetic Works of a Weird (1827).  Being writers themselves, surely our novelists must have a healthy respect for the poetical…

A Net of Influence: interreference between 18th and 19th-century novels

As a taster of the content that’s going up on our shiny new website, here’s an image that I put together earlier: This, as you can probably tell, is a draft version, but what it shows is a map of interreference between novels and novelists in our corpus. Writers, unsurprisingly, are generally people who enjoy…