Place and Progress in the Works of Elizabeth Gaskell: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Place and Progress in the Works of Elizabeth Gaskell

1st Edition

By Lesa Scholl, Emily Morris


246 pages

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Critical assessments of Elizabeth Gaskell have tended to emphasise the regional and provincial aspects of her writing, but the scope of her influence extended across the globe. Building on theories of space and place, the contributors to this collection bring a variety of geographical, industrial, psychological, and spatial perspectives to bear on the vast range of Gaskell’s literary output and on her place within the narrative of British letters and national identity. The advent of the railway and the increasing predominance of manufactory machinery reoriented the nation’s physical and social countenance, but alongside the excitement of progress and industry was a sense of fear and loss manifested through an idealization of the country home, the pastoral retreat, and the agricultural south. In keeping with the theme of progress and change, the essays follow parallel narratives that acknowledge both the angst and nostalgia produced by industrial progress and the excitement and awe occasioned by the potential of the empire. Finally, the volume engages with adaptation and cultural performance, in keeping with the continuing importance of Gaskell in contemporary popular culture far beyond the historical and cultural environs of nineteenth-century Manchester.


"This fine collection of essays, timed perfectly to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Gaskell’s death, will reach a broad audience from undergraduates to post-graduate researchers." - Deirdre d'Albertis, Bard College, USA, author of Dissembling Fictions: Elizabeth Gaskell and the Victorian Social Text

"Overall, this is an excellent collection which succeeds in viewing Gaskell apart from the ‘purely parochial construction of place’ that has historically dominated her critical reception (p. 3). It will be of great interest and usefulness to the increasing number of scholars who are drawn to the riches of Gaskell’s writings." - Jude Piesse, Liverpool John Moores University, UK

Table of Contents

Part 1 Home Geographies:

Gaskell on the waterfront: leisure, labor, and maritime space in the mid-19th century

Robert Burroughs

The humanizing transformations of the space of the home in Gaskell's Cranford

Nora Sellei

'You might pioneer a little home': hybrid spaces, identities, and homes in Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South

Divya Athmanathan

Grave matters: gothic places and kinetic spaces in Elizabeth Gaskell's Mary Barton

Emily K. Cody

Part 2 Mobility and Boundaries:

Unimagined community and disease in Ruth

Katherine Inglis

Temporally out of sync: migration as fiction and philanthropy in Gaskell's life and work

Fariha Shaikh

Moving between North and South: cultural signs and the progress of modernity in Elizabeth Gaskell's novel

Lesa Scholl

In search of shared time: national imaginings in Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South

Mary Mullen

Part 3 Literary and Imagined Spaces:

Catching the post: Elizabeth Gaskell as traveler and letter-writer

Kathrin Levitan

Gaskell the ethnographer: the case of 'modern Greek songs'

Anna Koustinoudi and Charalampos Passalis

Reading 'an every-day story' through bifocals: seriality and the limits of realism in Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters

Julia M. Chavez

Gaskell's 'rooted' prose realism

Josie Billington

Part 4 Cultural Performance and Visual Spaces:

Applied meteorology: scientific accuracy and imaginative writing in Elizabeth Gaskell's 'Cousin Phillis' and Wives and Daughters

Frances Twinn

Women's voices in the Pre-Raphaelite space of Elizabeth Gaskell's novels

Sophia Andres

'Look back at me': the material re-performance of the Victorian in North and South (2004)

Amy L. Montz

About the Authors


Lesa Scholl

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Learn more about Lesa Scholl >>

Lesa Scholl is Dean of Academic Studies at Emmanuel College, University of Queensland, Australia.

Emily Morris teaches literature and composition at St. Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada; and Sarina Gruver Moore is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Calvin College, USA.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature