The Objects and Textures of Everyday Life in Imperial Britain: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Objects and Textures of Everyday Life in Imperial Britain

1st Edition

Edited by Janet C. Myers, Deirdre H. McMahon


244 pages

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Hardback: 9781409455189
pub: 2015-12-28
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Focusing on everyday life in nineteenth-century Britain and its imperial possessions”from preparing tea to cleaning the kitchen, from packing for imperial adventures to arranging home décor”the essays in this collection share a common focus on materiality, the nitty-gritty elements that helped give shape and meaning to British self-definition during the period. Each essay demonstrates how preoccupations with common household goods and habits fueled contemporary debates about cultural institutions ranging from personal matters of marriage and family to more overtly political issues of empire building. While existing scholarship on material culture in the nineteenth century has centered on artifacts in museums and galleries, this collection brings together disparate fields”history of design, landscape history, childhood studies, and feminist and postcolonial literary studies”to focus on ordinary objects and practices, with specific attention to how Britons of all classes established the tenets of domesticity as central to individual happiness, national security, and imperial hegemony.


'This lively and inventive collection of essays demonstrates how nineteenth-century British people’s changing sense of themselves and their relationship to the rest of the world was made through their everyday engagement with material objects - from reading cheap printed maps, to polishing dusty sideboards and slaving over kitchen stoves. Bristling with fresh insights, it pioneers new approaches to the study of Victorian things to reveal the complex and contradictory ways that relationships of class, ’race’ and gender were lived and imagined and illustrates how home, nation and empire were bound together in imperial Britain. This agenda-setting, multidisciplinary volume will be an inspiration to all scholars interested in the relationships between domesticity, empire and Britishness.' Alastair Owens, Queen Mary University of London, UK

Table of Contents

Part 1: Mapping Domestic Territories

1. The Tangible Shape of the Nation: The State, the Cheap Printed Map, and the Manufacture of British Identit, 1784 - 1855

Jo Guldi

2. The Material Stability: Conforming to Type in British House Furnishings, 1860-1910

Clive Edwards

3. The Material Lessons of Children's Literature: Unearthing Class Standards in E. Nesbit's The Story of the Treasure Seekers

Mary Jeanette Moran

Part 2: Hearth, Home, and Housekeeping

4. Housekeeping: Shine, Polish, Gloss and Glaze as Surface Strategies in the Domestic Interior

Victoria Kelley

5. Kitchen Magic: Reforming the Victorian Kitchen with Alexis Soyer

Sumangala Bhattacharya

6. Tea Gender and Middle-Class Taste

Deirdre H. McMahon

Part 3: Imperial Possessions, Community Culture and Colonial Return

7. "A cross, a lion and a scroll or two": The Victorial Cross and the Substance of British Identity

Jason Howard Mezey

8. Monkeys in the House: Commodities and Competing Fetishisms in Late Victorian Popular Culture

Bradley Deane

9. Lady Montagu's Smokers' Pastils and The Graphoc Advertising the Harem in the Home

Kellie Holzer

About the Editors

Deirdre H. McMahon is Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of English and Philosophy at Drexel University, USA, and Janet C. Myers is Professor of English at Elon University, USA.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Social History
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature