The self in society: middle-class men and autobiography

Loftus, Donna (2006). The self in society: middle-class men and autobiography. In: Amigoni, David ed. Life Writing and Victorian Culture. The Nineteenth Century. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, pp. 67–86.

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Abstract

In this collection of interdisciplinary essays, experts from Britain and the United States in the fields of nineteenth-century literature, and social and cultural history explore new directions in the field of Victorian life writing. Chapters examine a varied yet interrelated range of genres, from the biography and autobiography, to the relatively neglected diary, collective biography, and obituary. Reflecting the rich research being conducted in this area, the contributors link life writing to the formation of gendered and class-based identities; the politics of the Victorian family; and the broader professional, political, colonial, and literary structures in which social and kinship relations were implicated.
A wide variety of Victorian works are considered, from the diary of the Radical Samuel Bamford, to the diary of the homosexual George Ives; from autobiographies of professional men to collective biographies of eminent women. Embracing figures as diverse as Gandhi, Wilde, and Bradlaugh, the collection explores the way in which narratives contested one another in a society that devoted an abundance of cultural energy to writing about, and reading of, lives.

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