Cultivating Culture in “The Modern Doctrine of Culture” and “Culture and Its Enemies”

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By K. Shoemaker

In April 1866, Cornhill Magazine published “The Modern Doctrine of Culture” as a call to observe the principals behind culture resulting from the expansion of the realms of science, politics, and art.  The essay laid out the position that culture was making itself increasingly known in Victorian England and that one should seek to define culture not just through mere scientific observation of it, but also through the capability to practice it with “artistic sensibility” (Unsigned 435).   Nearly a year latter, one of the Victorian era’s prominent poets, Matthew Arnold, published “Culture and Its Enemies” which heeds the call to make culture doctrine by criticism of social and political aspects of Victorian life. “The Modern Doctrine of Culture” and “Culture and Its Enemies” emphasize the importance of culture as a unifying force for a population that struggled against denominational exclusiveness in the political and religious realms. For a society to progress, both authors argue, a doctrine of benevolent understanding and guided action are required.

cornhill18660001-1“The Modern Doctrine of Culture” begins with a nod to the future, stating that the intellectuals of Europe are beginning to realize the importance of formulating culture as doctrine. This doctrine, once complete, will provide “a striking addition” to the “intellectual notions” of the European. The essay makes an attempt at the causation of the importance of such a doctrine by comparing its rise to the birth of a new star in the night sky, claiming, “that new stars appear in the sky oftener than new doctrines dawn upon men’s minds.” At the present time of the essay’s publication, the concept of culture as a form of unifying identity had Continue reading

Hopes and Fears and “The Expansion of Art”: William Morris and Ferdinand de Rothschild Discuss Culture for the Masses

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photo 2 By Asha Sidhu

In the Victorian era, art and the discussion of beauty took on a new role as a “formidable cultural force” (Denisoff 213). This development is evident in the rise of artistic communities such as the aesthetic movement, the Pre-Raphaelites, and the Arts and Crafts movement. William Morris and Ferdinand de Rothschild both expressed opinions on the changing nature of art and its implications for class and culture. In 1882, William Morris discussed what he calls “The Lesser Arts” in a chapter of his lecture series titled Hopes and Fears for Art, advocating a socialist approach to art. Morris thought that people should incorporate art into everyday life, so as to avoid monotony. Ferdinand de Rothschild’s essay “The Expansion of Art,” published in the Fortnightly Review in 1885, discusses the advantages and disadvantages of art becoming less exclusive. Morris and Rothschild argue that making art available to lower classes would be beneficial to society, but Rothschild’s argument is practical while Morris’s is idealistic.

In the section of his essay titled “The Lesser Arts,” William Morris expresses his socialist ideas for spreading art to people of all classes.  William Morris was a poet and artist (Leighton and Surridge 252) also part of the Arts and Crafts movement, along with other essayists like John Ruskin (Landow). The members of this movement thought that artisans and craftsmen should be like artists, and regretted that the industrial revolution removed the artistic aspect of every craft and production. Continue reading

The Search for the Man-like Ape: Identity Representation in Alfred Wallace Malay Archipelago and Beeton’s Boy’s Annual “My Visit to the Gorilla”

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By M. K.
My Visit to the Gorilla

The Victorian era was a time of extreme advancement in a multitude of fields, most notably the field of evolution.   With men like Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace leading the way, the field of evolution flourished. In Wallace’s Malay Archipelago, the famed scientist narrates his time hunting the orangutan in order to fully understand its origins and how closely related the ape is to man. The orangutan or the “great man-like ape of Borneo” (Wallace 517) posses a plethora of similarities with the gorilla, in which both mammals generated a great buzz in the Victorian era due to their myth-like legend that was spread. In Beeton’s Boy’s Annual, man’s fascination with the gorilla is explored; particularly in the short story “My Visit to the Gorilla” The story centers around a young scholar trip at a nearby exhibition in hopes to witness the savage nature of the constantly spoken about gorilla. In “My Visit to the Gorilla” and The Malay Archipelago, mans fascination and quest to understand the great apes ends up revealing more about Victorian era males than of the apes. Even though the narratives taking different approach on their fascination with the man-like apes the revelations about the imperialistic nature of the Victorian male is constant. Continue reading

The Fleshly School of Comedy: Similarities Between Buchanan’s Criticism of the Pre-Raphaelites and Punch’s Mockery of Aestheticism

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By A.M.

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The Pre-Raphaelite movement in the Victorian era, despite its immense popularity, was not without its detractors.  One of the harshest critics of the Pre-Raphaelites was Robert Williams Buchanan; in his 1871 review of a book of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poetry, Buchanan coined a derogatory term for the Pre-Raphaelites: The Fleshly School of Poetry (Buchanan 334).  This term is an obvious reference to the sexual nature of the Pre-Raphaelite body of work.  The fleshly school would become a well-known moniker for the Pre-Raphaelites, and this is evident from the use of this insult in a Punch article, a fake interview with Oscar Wilde, about Aestheticism that was written over a decade later: “Several Ladies expressed their disappointment at the ‘insufficient leanness’ of the Poet’s figure, whereupon his Business Manager explained that he belonged to the fleshly school” (Punch 58).  The fact that this term for the Pre-Raphaelites was popular enough to be used as a throwaway pun in a widely read publication like Punch a decade later proves that the fleshly school was not contained to just the Buchanan piece.  Furthermore, the centerpiece of the Punch article is a parody of Ariadne being abandoned at Naxos (she was abandoned by Theseus so Dionysus could marry her, and the implication here is that Wilde is leaving English Aestheticism to be picked up by another artist while he attempts Continue reading

Medical Progress and Victorian Ideals in “Under Chloroform” and “Some Account of Chloroform”

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By Sarah McIlmoyl

The Victorian Era was a period of immense expansion of knowledge. With the increased availability of periodicals, the average middle and working class person was able not only learn to read but also to keep up with the influential and the entertaining writings of that time. This was both a blessing and a curse for the medical community, as Henry Thompson reveals in his article “Under Chloroform” because a lot of the information was coming from inexperienced and misinformed sources (Thompson 499). Thompson, a prominent surgeon and writer, criticizes this fact in his 1860 article published in The Cornhill magazine. Among this criticism, he also highlights some very important Victorian ideals. This time period was a vital time for progress in England, especially in the science and medical fields. The innovations of this time changed the practice of medicine drastically. These changes were mostly due to the urgent need of life-saving procedures caused by the dangers of industrialization. The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine explains that “[o]f the 84 amputations performed [at the Royal London Hospital] as a consequence of trauma, 72 were necessitated by injuries sustained at work—for instance, ‘being run over by a railway car’, being ‘crushed between two ships’ or being ‘injured by machinery’” (Chalona, Flora and Ham 409). With amputations and other exceedingly painful and life-threatening procedures Continue reading

Livingstone’s Missionary Travels and Researches and “The South African Diamond Fields”- A Continuum of English Influence in South Africa

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By M. Trepanier

David Livingstone’s (1813-73) famous book Missionary Travels and Researches of South Africa, published in 1857, details his early travels to South Africa and his encounters with the people living there. His book suggests that future missionary trips should focus on improving the communities present and not just sharing the bible. Livingstone also suggests that learning the local languages of the native populations has “proved of incalculable advantage in my intercourse with them ever since” and the eventual respect for the people he gained is the best way to forge new relations with them (Livingstone 505). At the end of the section of Missionary Travels found in Broadview Anthology of Victorian Prose, Livingstone puts forth that free trade of ideas, culture, and industry between both Europe and Africa “would lead, in the course of time, to a much larger diffusion of the blessings of civilization than efforts exclusively spiritual and confined to any one small tribe” or, that specifically the importation of English ideals and Christianity would allow African communities to flourish on their own (508). Later on in Livingstone’s life he would return to Africa many times for other expeditions (504). The anonymous article I found in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal titled “The South African Diamond Fields,” published August 28th, 1880, shows the height of colonial conquest and diamond industry of South Africa to those living England. Continue reading

Contentious Bloomers: The Significance of Separate Spheres in John Ruskin’s “Sesame and Lilies” and Punch’s “Something More Apropos Of Bloomerism”

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By Cheylyne Eccles

In the Victorian era, the divide between gender and its expectations had never been greater. In 1864, John Ruskin delivered two lectures that comprised Sesame and Lilies in Manchester (Leighton and Surridge 301) to a “mixed-audience . . . of middle class men and women” (Millet 65). The astounding success of Sesame and Lilies spoke to the interests of the Victorians in the duties of gender, and the idea of separate spheres in which to separate and guide them. The 1851 bloomer phenomenon, as well as Punch’s “Something More Apropros of Bloomerism” served to influence and shape Ruskin’s ideal woman that he espouses in the chapter “Of Queen’s Gardens,” and in turn, revealed a deeper fear of gender subversion that was manifest in the Victorians at this time.

In “Of Queen’s Gardens,” Ruskin subtly but visibly reveals the presence of this fear of gender subversion by suggesting that women be allocated to the home. Indeed, the Victorian home is conveyed in “Of Queen’s Gardensas a utopian haven and is defined by its state of being untouched by the unpalatable realities of the public sphere and “outer world” (Ruskin 303). Continue reading

Gender Values: How to Be a Protestant Man in London and a Catholic Lady in Belfast

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By Tyson Duben

The Manliness of Christ was written in 1880 by Thomas Hughes when the “manliness” of the church began falling under public scrutiny. In particular, the nature of some of the longer robes worn by the high church priests became a joke among the magazines, like this Punch! comic that portrays the priest robes as quite flamboyant. In “Manliness,” Hughes argues the values of Christ are the epitome of what a man should be (Hughes 67). In an article entitled “The Ladies of Cavalry,” published in an 1883 issue of the Irish Monthly (an Irish-Catholic magazine), similar values are used to show a caring and loving example for women in the form of Madame Garnier. Hughes views on masculine values were not universal throughout Victorian culture and, in fact, were applied to feminine values just three years later in The Irish Monthly.

The excerpt from Manliness in the anthology Victorian Prose focuses on Jesus and his discovery that he is the Messiah from the John the Baptist. Hughes concentrates on Jesus’ struggle with accepting that he is “The Messiah” yet also accepting his responsibilities as the saviour of humanity. Hughes says Jesus’ whole life was the “assertion and example of true manliness—the setting forth in living act and word what man is meant to be and how he should carry himself” (Hughes 67). Hughes’ article helps portray the Victorian protestant view on what virtues defined manliness. These values included the resistance of temptation, enduring of suffering, Continue reading

Naturalized Oppression: John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women and The Spectator’s “Miss Taylor Versus The Pall Mall Gazette on Marriage.”

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By C. Sykes

Women in the Victorian era existed in a state of subservience to men, repressed by middle-class values that were buttressed by legislation, particularly concerning marriage. For example, husbands took legal control of property, children, and wives’ entire beings. Separate-spheres ideology prevailed in society, promoting distinct areas of male and female activity, the public and the private, or domestic (Hamilton 283). Supporters often legitimised the system by claiming its basis in nature. However, for women’s rights advocates such as John Stuart Mill, who published his book The Subjection of Women in 1869, this supposed natural arrangement was in fact manufactured by “social codes designed to keep men in power” (Hamilton 284), and its artificiality was verified by the necessity of laws restricting female liberty, and the slow progress towards legislative reformation. An 1868 article from The Spectator magazine, “Miss Taylor Versus The Pall Mall Gazette on Marriage,” demonstrates the naturalisation of gender equality in Victorian discourse; the anonymous author, whilst positing himself in favour of women’s legal equality in marriage, nevertheless maintains that gender inequality is based in nature, and legal reformation will be a symbolic nod to equality with no tangible implications. The article therefore epitomises the discourse that Mill is exposing in his book, obscuring the artificiality of gender inequality.

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Women in the Domestic Sphere in “The Women of England: Their Social Duties and Domestic Habits” & “At Home in the Evening”

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By K. S.

The idea of separate spheres for men and women prospered during the Victorian Era.  Men were seen as influential figures in both the public and private spheres by Victorians.  Work was considered the public sphere while home life was within the private sphere.  Women were seen as members of the private sphere.  The private sphere was where women could exercise their influential power to morally steer men, and instill in children, a strong will to resist any outside temptation deemed unholy or mischievous.  Sarah Stickney Ellis provides a conduct book called The Women of England: Their Social Duties and Domestic Habits, which explores the degree of influence women possess within the domestic sphere.  Ellis argues that a woman’s place is in the domestic sphere and that therefore it is her duty to influence, to the best of her ability, her husband and children to make morally sound choices.  On the other hand, the article “At Home in the Evening” found in The Family Economist also identifies that women have influence in the private sphere, but does so by considering the male and female to be “parents,” and household “heads.”  The periodical article, in its use of plurality, suggests that both men and women exert influence in the home.   The periodical also indirectly examines whether or not on some level men and women can be seen as equal or partners within the private sphere.
ImageEllis’s The Women of England, published in 1839, compiles how Ellis views herself and the women of England.  Ellis uses metaphors and practical language to depict that women possess a subtle, yet influential power.  She asserts that although women do not dominate the domestic sphere their influence is weighted heavily as they are considered the moral compass of the household.  Ellis states that “…The sphere of a woman’s happiness and most beneficial influence is a domestic one…” (289).

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