Narrative, Emotion and the Victorian Sensation Novel University of Idaho Seed Grant uri icon



  • In the 1860s and 1870s in England, a new literary genre emerged that scandalized conservative commentators. Sensation novels were so-called because of the melodramatic events narrated within them and also because they supposedly produced physical, often inappropriate, sensations in the bodies of their largely female readers. Through a cultural reconsideration of the Victorian sensation novel, my project argues for a new way of understanding the evolution of the novel and the history of emotion. I propose that these texts were considered lowbrow and potentially dangerous because they grounded the reader in her body. The project links the novels' emphasis on emotion and sensory impressions with Victorian philosophical and medical writing by authors such as Alexander Bain and Charles Darwin, revealing a surprising shared history between women's popular fiction and Victorian philosophy and science.

    I seek support to complete my book project, Narrative, Emotion, and the Victorian Sensation Novel. The book will contribute to the study of historical emotions and gender, as well as to nineteenth-century literature and culture. I request funding for summer research, in order to finalize a book proposal and sample chapters to send to a publisher, and the employment of a research assistant in Spring 2018 so that I can complete the manuscript.