Neo-Victorianism and Globalisation:
Transnational Dissemination of Nineteenth-Century Cultural Texts
2014 Special Issue of Neo-Victorian Studies
This special issue seeks to explore the rise and the scope of the globalisation of neo-Victorianism. We are witnesses today to a transnational spread of all things Victorian verging on 'Victorianomania', where different elements of nineteenth-century literature and material culture are continuously translated, adapted and recycled for contemporary use. On the one hand, the re-visioned revival of popular genres of the nineteenth century is evident in a spate of neo-Victorian novels that re-visit Victorian fiction in terms of style and content as well as rethink the narrative format of the eponymous 'loose, baggy monsters'. Whether they are playful investigations of cosmopolitanism within the history of globalised economy - as depicted in Amitav Ghosh's The Sea of Poppies - or of transatlantic narratives and cultural connections between Victorian London and the contemporary US cityscape - as in HBO's TV series The Wire - neo-Victorian fictions engage not only with nineteenth-century narrative pace and plotting but also with the period's cross-fertilised popular genres. At the same time, the plethora of TV, film, video games, graphic novels, fashion and interior design adaptations and appropriations of Victorian art, literature and culture are clearly influenced by the global market, testifying to the impact of the ever-spreading 'participatory culture' (Jenkins 2006). This special issue aims to chart the patterns and politics of neo-Victorianism's transnational production and dissemination.
Some of the key questions Neo-Victorianism and Globalisation seeks to
- To what extent can we talk about the process of translating elements of nineteenth-century literature and culture into contemporary media as 'neo-Victorianism' outside of the Anglo-American context?
- How does nostalgia inform/deform the relationship between appropriated Victorian narrative forms and their global circulation?
- What political dynamics underlie the transnational dissemination of the '(neo-)Victorian', both as a term and concept, and what are its ideological implications?
- How broadly can 'neo-Victorian' be expanded as a generic term before it loses its critical value?
- Does neo-Victorianism run the risk of being construed as a form of cultural imperialism?
- How does postcolonialism contest and/or intersect with trans- and multiculturalism in neo-Victorian remediations of the nineteenth-century past?
- How can attention to multiple (national, ethnic, and cultural) publics and markets avoid totalising 'neo-Victorianism' as a monolithic concept?
- Which particular Victorian genres (such as Gothic, detection or sensation fiction), predominate in different neo-Victorian media and cultural contexts and why?
- What unacknowledged, potentially discriminatory or disabling mechanisms may be discerned in neo-Victorian critical discourse (e.g. Anglo-American/Euro-centrism, Western-focused trauma discourse, new forms of sexism, etc.)?