• The Radical Voice of Margaret Oliphant: Extending Domesticity in Hester and Kirsteen

      Baker, Katie; University of Chester
      This paper demonstrates how the nineteenth-century writer Margaret Oliphant drew upon her domestic identity to write in radical ways which could educate and inform her young female readership. Through the exploration of two female characters, Catherine Vernon in Hester (1883) and Kirsteen Douglas in Kirsteen (1890), the paper demonstrates how Oliphant represented the importance of opportunities available for young women within 'extended domesticity', a version of the domestic space which extended beyond conventional boundaries to include all women. Through representations of female characters like Catherine and Kirsteen, who had careers and even businesses, of their own, Oliphant showed the possibilities available for women whose lives did not fit into the conventional mould of marriage and maternity. Hester and Kirsteen allow Oliphant to represent two very different versions of domesticity, and to reinforce the necessity for an extended version of it, which allows women the space to find personal growth and fulfilment. The paper engages with the scholarship of critics such as George Levine and Katherine Mullin to explore Oliphant's radical voice and to reinforce her place as an important writer.
    • Reading Victorian rags: Recycling, redemption, and Dickens's ragged children

      Wynne, Deborah; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2014-12-24)
      In Victorian Britain rags were not only associated with the inadequate clothing of the poor, they were also viewed as a valuable commodity, widely collected for recycling into paper. This essay examines rags as simultaneously despised and precious objects, tracing the connections between Victorian accounts of poverty, the industrial recycling of rags into paper, and the redemption narratives created by Charles Dickens about rescued children. A supporter of Ragged Schools and champion of rags recycling, Dickens drew on the idea of the transformation of dirty rags into clean paper in his representations of ragged children. To him, the recycling of rags indicated the civilizing forces of modernity, and reading Dickens's representations of ragged children in this context reveals how cloth recycling became a paradigm for society's duties towards destitute children. This essay explains Dickens's juxtaposition of ragged children with references to rag-dealing in his novels; by this means he suggested that street children, like their ragged clothing, were capable of being purified and transformed into social usefulness.
    • “There was something very peculiar about Doc…”: Deciphering Queer Intimacy in Representations of Doc Holliday

      Tankard, Alex; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2014-12-08)
      This essay discusses representations of male intimacy in life-writing about consumptive gunfighter John Henry “Doc” Holliday (1851-1887). I argue that twentieth-century commentators rarely appreciated the historical specificity of Holliday’s friendships in a frontier culture that not only normalized but actively celebrated same-sex intimacy. Indeed, Holliday lived on the frayed edges of known nineteenth-century socio-sexual norms, and his interactions with other men were further complicated by his vicious reputation and his disability. His short life and eventful afterlife exposes the gaps in available evidence – and the flaws in our ability to interpret it. Yet something may still be gleaned from the early newspaper accounts of Holliday. Having argued that there is insufficient evidence to justify positioning him within modern categories of hetero/homosexuality, I analyze the language used in pre-1900 descriptions of first-hand encounters with Holliday to illuminate the consumptive gunfighter’s experience of intimacy, if not its meaning.