By Accident or Design: Writing the Victorian Metropolis

Hardcover | April 29, 2015

byPaul Fyfe

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"On the banks of the Thames it is a tremendous chapter of accidents". As Henry James surveys London in 1888, he sums up what had fascinated urban observers for a century: the random and even accidental development of this unprecedented form of human settlement, the modern metropolis. ByAccident or Design: Writing the Victorian Metropolis takes James at his word, arguing that accident was both a powerful metaphor and material context through which the Victorians arrested the paradoxes of metropolitan modernity and reconfigured understandings of form and change. Paul Fyfe shows howthe material conditions of urban accidents offer new and compelling modes of analysis for intellectual and literary history. Through extensive archival study and interdisciplinary analysis of urban-industrial accidents, risk management, and civic improvements, By Accident or Design reclaims the metropolis as ground zero for some of the most important thinking about causation in the nineteenth century. It demonstrates thecentrality of interdependent concepts of design and accident not only to metropolitan discourse, but also to current critical discourse about the formal and circulatory dynamics of Victorian metropolitan writing. Thus, this book offers a new vocabulary for the dialectics of the modern city and thesignature forms of writing about it, including the newspaper, the illustrated periodical, the industrial novel, and urban broadsheets.

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"On the banks of the Thames it is a tremendous chapter of accidents". As Henry James surveys London in 1888, he sums up what had fascinated urban observers for a century: the random and even accidental development of this unprecedented form of human settlement, the modern metropolis. ByAccident or Design: Writing the Victorian Metropol...

Paul Fyfe is Assistant Professor in the Department of English and program faculty in the Communications, Rhetoric, and Digital Media program at North Carolina State University. He earned a PhD from the University of Virginia and developed specialties in Victorian literature as well as book and media history. At NC State, he teaches cou...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.82 inPublished:April 29, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198732333

ISBN - 13:9780198732334

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Accidents in the News2. Dickens and the Traffic of Accidents3. Industrial Accidents and Novel Insurances4. Street Literature and the Remediation of Accident5. Chaos and Connections on the Victorian RailwayAfterword: An Accidental Excursion