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Affective Accretion: Reconciling the Material and the Emotional in Studies of the Victorian Era

How do we approach an age that, increasingly, feels unanchored from our emotional present? Why do the outsized passions and curious habits of the past, often evade faithful restoration? As we take what has been termed a ‘material turn’[1] in Victorian studies, appraising an object’s function has become secondary to uncovering an object’s emotional afterlife. We are still interested, for example, in a fossil’s paleontological value, but are perhaps more eager to learn that they were routinely licked by enthusiastic geologists tongue-testing for mineralisation. Our concern with the affective capacity of an object has led to an intersection between the study of materiality and the burgeoning field known as the ‘history of emotions.’

Read more over at The History of Emotions Blog!

Published by Rosalind White

I am a first-year PhD student at Royal Holloway looking at gender & emotions in the science & literature of the nineteenth-century. My research looks at how natural history in many ways dwelt within the feminine sphere of Victorian culture. And charts a more intimate, personal exploration of natural history that examines the lives of its practitioners beyond the impact of conventional watersheds.

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