London Street Life and Literary Form: Victorian Aesthetics of Poverty


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation explores the aesthetic implications of mid and late-nineteenth-century fictional and journalistic writing about London street life. In the mid-nineteenth century, the focus of popular writing shifted from the rich to the poor. The shift to what was considered a more socially responsible art also entailed an aestheticization of moral questions. Each chapter of the project focuses on the ways in which Victorian representations of the poor not only challenged social and cultural boundaries, but also served to push against generic categories and literary conventions. The questions that guide this project revolve around the ways in which aesthetics and ethics intersect in Victorian narratives about London street life and poverty.