Late nineteenth-century Britain experienced an unprecedented explosion of visual print culture and a simultaneous rise in literacy across social classes. New printing technologies facilitated quick and cheap dissemination of images—illustrated books, periodicals, cartoons, comics, and ephemera—to a mass readership. This Victorian visual turn prefigured the present-day impact of the Internet on how images are produced and shared, both driving and reflecting the visual culture of its time.
From this starting point, Drawing on the Victorians sets out to explore the relationship between Victorian graphic texts and today’s steampunk, manga, and other neo-Victorian genres that emulate and reinterpret their predecessors. Neo-Victorianism is a flourishing worldwide phenomenon, but one whose relationship with the texts from which it takes its inspiration remains underexplored.
In this collection, scholars from literary studies, cultural studies, and art history consider contemporary works—Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Moto Naoko’s Lady Victorian, and Edward Gorey’s Gashlycrumb Tinies, among others—alongside their antecedents, from Punch’s 1897 Jubilee issue to Alice in Wonderland and more. They build on previous work on neo-Victorianism to affirm that the past not only influences but converses with the present.
Contributors: Christine Ferguson, Kate Flint, Anna Maria Jones, Linda K. Hughes, Heidi Kaufman, Brian Maidment, Rebecca N. Mitchell, Jennifer Phegley, Monika Pietrzak-Franger, Peter W. Sinnema, Jessica Straley
“Drawing on the Victorians is a singularly diverse and multinational collection, a fine critical embodiment of the palimpsest trope that stands … at its conceptual core.“
“Jones and Mitchell’s innovative and pioneering collection will establish new areas of scholarly
debate. Moreover, its focus on ‘stories and poems, books and periodicals, comics, cartoons, and
other ephemera’ will enrich discussions on the interplay between the production and
reception of Victorian and neo-Victorian graphic texts and textual images.”
“Stunningly transnational … The editors take the notion of the palimpsest as their conceptual frame because it speaks to haunting of one text and/or image by another, a layering, they assert, that becomes particularly complex when linguistic, geographic, historical, and temporal boundaries are crossed.”
David L. Pike, American University
“Research in Victorian and neo-Victorian visual and verbal art receives a welcome boost from this collection. Not claiming to be a definitive map or theory, it nonetheless at every point opens up new questions for debate and new topics for investigation by future critics and scholars.”
David Skilton, Emeritus Professor in English, Cardiff University
“This pioneering work in illustration studies will provide a necessary starting point for future work in the field.”
Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, author of Poetry, Pictures, and Popular Publishing: The Illustrated Gift Book and Victorian Visual Culture, 1855–1875