The Masses Are Revolting: The Aesthetics of Disgust in the Late Victorian Novel


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation explores the interrelation of disgust and aesthetic theory in the late Victorian novel, taking works by Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Thomas Hardy, George Gissing, and John Ruskin as its main points of departure. Through detailed studies of individual authors, the study tracks the development of an aesthetics of disgust in the Victorian social novel. At the same time, by engaging with both Enlightenment aesthetic discourse on the opposition between the beautiful and the disgusting, and the Victorian sanitary reformist rhetoric of social revulsion, it analyzes the unprecedented importance afforded to this negative emotion in nineteenth-century British culture and society.