“The End Is No Longer Hidden”: Newspapers, Fate, And The Sensation Novel - Jessica Valdez

Fri 9 November 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm FREE!
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“The End Is No Longer Hidden”: Newspapers, Fate, And The Sensation Novel - Jessica Valdez - Seminar Room S226 - Camperdown - NSW
Presented by the Department of English Seminar Series


Benedict Anderson argues that the daily ceremony of newspaper reading fosters a horizontal identification with other imagined readers and thereby facilitates the ability to “think” nation. By contrast, newspapers in the sensation novel are a major source of nervous anxiety and overwrought emotion, contributing to the feeling that characters are at odds with their communities. This talk argues that Wilkie Collins’s and Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s sensation novels make the newspaper integral to the mysterious, uncanny, and “atmospheric menace” for which the sensation novel is so famous. Rather than drawing upon newspapers for a sense of realism, as critics have argued, these novels treat their newspapers as signs of superstition and fate. By experimenting with newspaper time and form, as well as the temporal structure of narrative, sensation novels highlight characters whose experience of time and community is not simultaneous and homogenous, as Anderson suggests, but rather more akin to a sense of history beyond the nation, one linked up with an overall providential plot. Characters rarely read newspapers according to their original publication, but instead clip them from the newspaper’s broadsheet. Nor does this reading situate them within a larger community; on the contrary, sensation characters identify with the newspaper’s “norm violators” and see this as a blueprint for their future acts, as if they are part of an already determined narrative.

Jessica Valdez currently teaches at the University of Hong Kong and holds a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. Her research interests include nineteenth-century British literature and culture, the novel, literary theory, and popular literature. Her current book project, Re-forming Nation and Newspaper in the Victorian Novel​, examines the depiction of news and newspapers in nineteenth-century British novels.
Fri 9 November 2018
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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Seminar Room S226
John Woolley Building,
University Of Sydney,
2050, Australia