Victorian Conversion Narratives and Reading Communities: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Victorian Conversion Narratives and Reading Communities

1st Edition

By Emily Walker Heady


182 pages

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Paperback: 9781138272347
pub: 2016-10-26
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Hardback: 9781409453772
pub: 2013-05-23
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315548302
pub: 2016-03-03
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Because Victorian authors rarely discuss conversion experiences separately from the modes in which they are narrated, Emily Walker Heady argues that the conversion narrative became, in effect, a form of literary criticism. Literary conventions, in turn, served the reciprocal function as a means of discussing the nature of what Heady calls the 'heart-change.' Heady reads canonical authors such as John Henry Newman, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Oscar Wilde through a dual lens of literary history and post-liberal theology. As Heady shows, these authors question the ability of realism to contain the emotionally freighted and often jarring plot lines that characterize conversion. In so doing, they explore the limits of narrative form while also shedding light on the ways in which conversion narratives address and often disrupt the reading communities in which they occur.


’Heady’s book demonstrates the centrality of the religious idea of conversion to Victorian authors whose modern readers are not themselves religious. …valuable and rewarding…’ Journal of Theological Studies

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; How a capitalist converts: Dickens's theology and the realism of Dombey and Son; 'Must I render an account?': the ethics of genre in Charlotte Brontë's Villette; Gambling on conversion: the problem of relativism in Daniel Deronda; To sum up, to judge: the aesthetics of truth in Heart of Darkness; The afterlife of Oscar Wilde's conversion, or, what self-consciously literary college students say on Facebook; Works cited; Index.

About the Author

Emily W. Heady is Dean of the College of General Studies and Professor of English at Liberty University, USA. Her recent work has appeared in The Journal of Narrative Theory, Texas Studies in Literature and Language, and Prose Studies.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature