Dynamics of Genre
Newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals reached a peak of cultural influence andfinancial success in Britain in the 1850s and 1860s, out-publishing and out-selling books asmuch as one hundred to one. But although scholars have long known that writing for the vastperiodical marketplace provided many Victorian authors with needed income-and sometimes evenwith full second careers as editors and journalists-little has been done to trace how themidcentury ascendancy of periodical discourses might have influenced Victorian literarydiscourse.In The Dynamics of Genre, Dallas Liddle innovatively combinesMikhail Bakhtin's dialogic approach to genre with methodological tools from periodicalsstudies, literary criticism, and the history of the book to offer the first rigorous study of therelationship between mid-Victorian journalistic genres and contemporary poetry, the novel, andserious expository prose. Liddle shows that periodical genres competed both ideologically andeconomically with literary genres, and he studies how this competition influenced the midcenturywritings and careers of authors including Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Harriet Martineau, AnthonyTrollope, George Eliot, and the sensation novelists of the 1860s. Some Victorian writers directlyadopted the successful genre forms and worldview of journalism, but others such as Eliot stronglyrejected them, while Trollope launched his successful career partly by using fiction to analyzejournalism's growing influence in British society. Liddle argues that successfulinterpretation of the works of these and many other authors will be fully possible only whenscholars learn to understand the journalistic genre forms with which mid-Victorian literaryforms interacted and competed.
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