Neo-Victorian Families

Gender, Sexual and Cultural Politics


Tracing representations of re-imagined Victorian families in literature, film and television, and social discourse, this collection, the second volume in Rodopi’s Neo-Victorian Series, analyses the historical trajectory of persistent but increasingly contested cultural myths that coalesce around the heterosexual couple and nuclear family as the supposed ‘normative’ foundation of communities and nations, past and present. It sheds new light on the significance of families as a source of fluctuating cultural capital, deployed in diverse arenas from political debates, social policy and identity politics to equal rights activism, and analyses how residual as well as emergent ideologies of family are mediated and critiqued by contemporary arts and popular culture. This volume will be of interest to researchers and students of neo-Victorian studies, as well as scholars in contemporary literature and film studies, cultural studies and the history of the family. Situating the nineteenth-century family both as a site of debilitating trauma and the means of ethical resistance against multivalent forms of oppression, neo-Victorian texts display a fascinating proliferation of alternative family models, albeit overshadowed by the apparent recalcitrance of familial ideologies to the same historical changes neo-Victorianism reflects and seeks to promote within the cultural imaginary.
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Review Quote

"This volume provides highly relevant information about a wide range of theories and Neo-Victorian literary and visual texts. The essays have a critical potential in their approach to gender, sexual and social politics and tropes of trauma both in Victorian and contemporary representations, which make the volume fascinating and worth reading." – Maria Isable Romero Ruiz, University of Malaga, in: Miscelánea: a Journal of English and American Studies 46 (2012), pp.145-149 "The essays in Neo-Victorian Families: Gender, Sexual and Cultural Politics provide a wide-ranging account of the centrality of discourses of the familial to neo-Victorianism in a variety of genres and forms. From the re-presentation of narratives of slum communities and childhoods in popular contemporary US drama like The Wire through to reconstructions of national identity as a kinship beyond geographical and historical constraints, individual chapters set attentiveness to analytical detail alongside conceptual frameworks that illuminate new aspects of the genre and its poetics. As the editors make clear in their theoretically informed and textually astute introduction, neo-Victorianism increasingly offers ways of recasting the political, philosophical and epistemological concerns of the present via an intellectually challenging engagement with the contentious histories, lived and imagined, of the nineteenth century." – Mark Llewellyn, University of Strathclyde, Scotland, UK

Table of contents

Marie-Luise Kohlke and Christian Gutleben: Introducing Neo-Victorian Family Matters: Cultural Capital and Reproduction Endangered Childhoods and Lost Futures: Filthiness and Philanthropy Matthew Kaiser: From London’s East End to West Baltimore: How the Victorian Slum Narrative Shapes The Wire Shurlee Swain: Failing Families: Echoes of Nineteenth-Century Child Rescue Discourse in Contemporary Debates around Child Protection Louisa Yates: The Figure of the Child in Neo-Victorian Queer Families Marie-Luise Kohlke: Neo-Victorian Childhoods: Re-Imagining the Worst of Times Performing (Im)Possible Happy Families: Deconstruction and Reconstruction María Isabel Seguro: Deconstructing the Victorian Family? Trying to Reach Cloud Nine Regina Hansen: The Cratchits on Film: Neo-Victorian Visions of Domesticity Sarah Edwards: The Rise and Fall of the Forsytes: From Neo-Victorian to Neo-Edwardian Marriage Hila Shachar: The Lost Mother and the Enclosed Lady: Gender and Domesticity in MTV’s Adaptation of Wuthering Heights Sarah Gamble: Monarchs and Patriarchs: Angela Carter’s Recreation of the Victorian Family in The Magic Toyshop The Mirror of Society: Familial Trauma, Dissolution and Transformation Susana Onega: Family Traumas and Serial Killing in Peter Ackroyd’s Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem Anca Vlasopolos: Family Trauma and Reconfigured Families: Philip Pullman’s Neo-Victorian Detective Series Melissa Fegan: “That heartbroken island of incestuous hatreds”: Famine and Family in Joseph O’Connor’s Star of the Sea Rosario Arias: (In)Visible Disability in Neo-Victorian Families Georges Letissier: More Than Kith and Less Than Kin: Queering the Family in Sarah Waters’s Neo-Victorian Fictions Contributors Index