Gothic Pedagogy and Victorian Reform Treatises Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • This paper considers the work of bodily affect in three Victorian reform treatises about the industrial working classes: Kay's The Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Classes Employed in the Cotton Manufacture in Manchester, Chadwick's Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Great Britain, and Engels's The Condition of the Working Class in England. Employing a gothic technology that graphically illustrates and appeals to the sensations, these treatises provide a striking instance of the extent to which Victorian attempts at social reform were routed through the visceral, sensible knowledge of the body. Since, however, the gothic tends toward the excessive, a second crucial feature of its technology entails the arousal of conflicting sensations that problematize class relations.

publication date

  • April 2008