Shows of London

Nineteenth-Century Reading Group Meeting


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

17.30, Research Forum South Room

King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid, Edward Burne-JonesKing Cophetua and the Beggar Maid, Edward Burne-Jones, Oil on canvas (1884). © Tate Gallery, London

Speaker(s): Presented by Professor Clare Pettitt (King’s College London)

Ticket/entry details: Open to academic staff and postgraduate students of The Courtauld, King’s College London and other institutions

Organised by: Professor Caroline Arscott (The Courtauld Institute of Art) with Professor Clare Pettitt and Dr Adelene Buckland (Kings College London)

Shows of London is an interdepartmental/intercollegiate group studying Victorian Culture that meets regularly to discuss texts on street culture, representation, the Metropolis and associated issues.

Inspired by the AHRC funded project Scrambled Messages: the Telegraphic Imaginary 1857-1900, running from October 2013, this term’s readings examine innovative literary, artistic, and technological forms in the nineteenth century. Exploring compression in literary and artistic form, cryptography, and telegraphy in our first session on ‘Codes’, presented by Professor Clare Pettitt (KCL), we are particularly interested in codes as the point ‘where writing leaves off and matter begins’ (Shawn James Rosenheim) – where writing itself becomes stuff and matter. The session will ask: does compression necessarily involve violence? And what other possibilities are opened up by compressed and condensed forms of art and writing? Keeping up this interest in the relationship between matter, writing, and technology, our second session, on ‘Waves’, considers the relationship between light waves and particles, and considers the power of waves to transmit energy without the movement of matter. How did Victorian literary and artistic forms produce, and reproduce, these wave-like patterns? ‘Waves’ will be led by Professor Caroline Arscott (The Courtauld Institute of Art).

Reading list:

  • Caroline Arscott, ‘Edward Burne-Jones (1833-98)’, in The Cambridge Companion to the Pre-Raphaelites, ed. by Elizabeth Prettejohn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 223-35
  • Shawn James Rosenheim, The Cryptographic Imagination: Secret Writings from Edgar Allen Poe to the Internet (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1997). Chapter 4: ‘Dark Fiber: Cryptography, telegraphy, science fiction’, pp. 65-86
  • Edward Burne-Jones, King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid (Tate, 1884)
  • Edgar Allan Poe, ‘The Gold-Bug’, in Tales (New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1845), pp. 1-36

Text will be available at the Shows of London website:  

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