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…

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: 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…

Visual Tropes Gallery of the Week: Men falling off of things

Men.  Now, I don’t want to come across as sexist or anything, but it’s time someone came out and said it: the problem with men is, that they are always – and I mean,  CONSTANTLY – falling off of things. You literally can’t take them anywhere.  Especially not anywhere that involves a moderately elevanted surface,…

Image of the Week: A Plunge into Space

Born in County Down, Robert Cromie  (1855-1907) published his science fiction novel A Plunge into Space in 1890 at the age of 35. The text does pretty much what it says on the tin and follows an expedition to Mars and while it doesn’t feature in our project’s corpus, it is perhaps a good example of Irish fin…

Insult of the Week: A “stiff-necked, arrogant imbecile, pig-headed numskull”

This week’s insult is brought to you by Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. During an ongoing feud between Mr Lawrence Boythorn and Sir Leicester Dedlock over “the green pathway by the old parsonage-house” (that neither man actually seems to want), Boythorn explains their exchanges on the subject “The fellow, by his agent, or secretary, or somebody,…

Dowries and Dowagers; or, Conjectures on Why Lady Catherine de Bourgh is So Rude

It’s one of Pride and Prejudice‘s pivotal and iconic scenes.  Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who’s incensed at “an alarming report” about her nephew’s likelihood of marrying “a young woman without family, connections, or fortune”, travels to Longbourn to confront Elizabeth, confident of being able to persuade or bully her into dropping any matrimonial ambitions in…