All 4 entries tagged Bleak House

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January 14, 2013

The Great Exhibition of 1851

In the Bleak House classes today I talked about the Great Exhibition of 1851 as one important context in which to situate the novel. These watercolours by Henry Clarke Pidgeon give an idea of the objects on display and, in the second picture, the size and scale of the Crystal Palace:

Watercolours of Great Ex

Watercolour 2

The building itself is interesting because the iron and glass architecture produced an unfamiliar experience of space, disrupting perceptions of size, distance and scale - seemingly objective, stable categories of understanding one's position in the world. I've written a bit more about this here.

The Great Exhibition also provides context for Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone: the "moonstone" itself was inspired by the Koh-I-Noor diamond which was on display at the Exhibition:

diamond.png

(visitors viewing the Koh-I-Noor)

The Guardian's "From the Archive" series brought to light a piece about the Exhibition shortly after its opening in 1851, noting that "the English showed most curiosity about the foreign half of the exhibition, while foreigners eagerly inspected the British department", and briefly mentioning the Koh-i-noor which "appeared to be the chief object of attraction among the fairer portion of the assemblage".

I've written more about the Great Exhibition and connections on my research blog.


January 08, 2013

Week 2 preparation on Bleak House

200px-bleakhouse_serial_cover.jpg

For the week 2 seminar on Bleak House I would like you to prepare by focusing on one minor character (or small set of characters) in the novel.

Think about:

  • why they are significant and what they contribute to the novel;
  • the thread of their narrative development throughout the novel, who they connect with, where they go etc;
  • how they relate to overarching themes we're looking at, particularly ideas around "nation and narration".

January 02, 2013

Week 1 Questions

Bleak House cover

We'll be starting the first seminar of the term with a recap of the novels studied so far and then thinking about how Bleak House fits into the emerging trajectory of "the English 19th century novel". In preparation for this I'd like you to think about the following:

  • What themes and ideas have been predominant throughout the novels studied? What picture of the 19th century have these built up?
  • What narrative techniques have we seen used - form, style, structure, narrative voice etc?
  • How does Bleak House fit into this - what themes and contexts does it raise as significant? What literary techniques can you identify? How does its handling of "the condition of England" resonate with or differ from the novels of last term?

You could also start to think about issues around connection, circulation and networks in Bleak House which we'll discuss more in week 2.


December 16, 2012

19th Century vacation viewing

I mentioned in the last week of classes that a BBC adaptation of Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone is coming up over the vacation but I can't find any further information on this and it looks as though it may have been delayed until 2013.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other very good adaptations for the texts of the next unit. The 2005 Bleak Housewith Anna Maxwell Martin as Esther and Gillian Anderson as Lady Dedlock is an excellent watch, managing to capture much of the novel's complexity over 15 episodes. On the University of Warwick's Celebrating Dickens website you can hear screenwriter Andrew Davies talking to Jon Mee about the making of Bleak House; there are also a number of other podcasts on Bleak House and Victorian Britain which might be of interest.

The BBC's Daniel Deronda is also very good. Ones that I have yet to watch, but which come highly recommended from colleagues, include this Moonstone and Jude.

If you've watched any adaptations that you'd recommend then do share in the comments.


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