1st Edition

The Socio-Literary Imaginary in 19th and 20th Century Britain Victorian and Edwardian Inflections

Edited By Maria Bachman, Albert Pionke Copyright 2020
    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    At once an invitation and a provocation, The Socio-Literary Imaginary represents the first collection of essays to illuminate the historically and intellectually complex relationship between literary studies and sociology in nineteenth and early twentieth-century Britain. During the ongoing emergence of what Thomas Carlyle, in "Signs of the Times" (1829), pejoratively labeled a new "Mechanical Age," Britain’s robust tradition of social thought was transformed by professionalization, institutionalization, and the birth of modern disciplinary fields. Writers and thinkers most committed to an approach grounded in empirical data and inductive reasoning, such as Harriet Martineau and John Stuart Mill, positioned themselves in relation to French positivist Auguste Comte’s recent neologism "la  sociologie." Some Victorian and Edwardian novelists, George Eliot and John Galsworthy among them, became enthusiastic adopters of early sociological theory; others, including Charles Dickens and Ford Madox Ford, more  idiosyncratically both complemented and competed with the "systems of society" proposed by their social scientific contemporaries. Chronologically bound within the period from the 1830s through the 1920s, this volume expansively reconstructs their expansive if never collective efforts. Individual essays focus on Comte, Dickens, Eliot, Ford, and Galsworthy, as well as Friedrich Engels, Elizabeth Gaskell, G. H. Lewes, Virginia Woolf, and others. The volume's introduction locates these author-specific contributions in the context of both the international intellectual history of sociology in Britain through the First World War and the interanimating intersections of sociological and literary  theory from the work of Hippolyte Taine in the 1860s through the successive linguistic and digital turns of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.


    Maria K. Bachman and Albert D. Pionke

    Mill, Comte, and the Literature of Sociological Critique

    Albert D. Pionke

    Harriet Martineau, Sociological Foremother

    Deborah Anna Logan

    "The Shortest Way Out of Manchester": Literary Sociology, Sociological Literature, and the Substance Abuse Question

    Carol Margaret Davison

    Harriet Martineau and the Narrative Transmission of Social Knowledge

    Rachel Stern

    World Making: Character as Goffmanian Co-Presence in The Pickwick Papers and Our Mutual Friend

    Kristen Starkowski

    Goffman Goes to Middlemarch

    Audrey Jaffe

    Character and Life: Sociological Method in George Eliot’s Fiction

    Scott Thompson

    Keeping Up Appearances: Criminality, Durkheim, and the Case of A.J. Raffles, Gentleman-Thief

    Maria K. Bachman

    The Persistence of Social Groups: Georg Simmel and John Galsworthy

    Rosetta Young

    "A more emotional, a more keenly analytical picture": Impressionism, Naturalism, and Sociology in Ford Madox Ford

    Adam Parkes


    Maria K. Bachman is Professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University. She is co-editor of Fear, Loathing, and Victorian Xenophobia (The Ohio State University Press, 2013), Reality’s Dark Light: The Sensational Wilke Collins (University of Tennessee Press, 2003), Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White and Blind Love (Broadview Press, 2006, 2004) and editor of Wilkie Collins’s "The Dead Hand" and Charles Dickens's "The Bride's Chamber" (University of Tampa Press, 2009). She has also published numerous critical articles and book chapters on Victorian and Edwardian literature and culture and is co-editor of the Victorians Institute Journal.

    Albert D. Pionke is the William and Margaret Going Endowed Professor of English at The University of Alabama. He is the author of Plots of Opportunity: Representing Conspiracy in Victorian England (Ohio State University Press, 2004), The Ritual Culture of Victorian Professionals: Competing for Ceremonial Status, 1838-1877 (Ashgate, 2013; Routledge 2016), and Teaching Later British Literature: A Thematic Approach (Anthem, 2019); the co-editor of Victorian Secrecy: Economies of Knowledge and Concealment (Ashgate 2010; Routledge, 2016) and Thomas Carlyle and the Idea of Influence (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2018); and the founding director and principal investigator of Mill Marginalia Online (millmarginalia.org).