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June 10 , 2009

Victorian Secrecy

Economies of Knowledge and Concealment


Whether commercial, personal, political, professional, or spiritual, knowledge was capital for the Victorians in their ongoing project of constructing a modern information-based society. Victorian Secrecy explores the myriad ways in which knowledge was both zealously accumulated and jealously guarded by individuals, institutions, and government entities in Victorian Britain. Offering a wide variety of critical approaches and disciplinary perspectives, the contributors examine secretive actors with respect to a broad range of subjects, including the narrator in Tess of the d'Urbervilles, John Henry Newman's autobiographical novel Loss and Gain, Richard Dadd's The Fairy Feller's Masterstroke, modes of detection in Bleak House, the secret history of Harriet Martineau's role in the repeal of the Corn Law, and Victorian stage magicians. Taken together, the essays provide a richly textured account of which modes of hiding and revealing articulate secrets in Victorian literature and culture; how social relations are formed and reformed in relationship to secrecy; and what was at stake individually, aesthetically, and culturally in the Victorians' clandestine activities.

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