Dickens and Mass Culture

Paperback | November 26, 2013

byJuliet John

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That the idea of Dickens and the adjective "Dickensian" continue to have a cultural resonance which extends beyond the book-buying public almost two centuries after Dickens's birth is testimony to his sense of himself as a mass cultural artist. Juliet John contends that Dickens's popularity isunique, different even from that of Shakespeare because, writing in "the first age of mass culture", he was instinctively aware of the changed context of art, or of the need for popular art to find its place in an age of mechanical reproduction. Dickens and Mass Culture describes the ways in which Dickens envisioned and engineered his cultural pervasiveness, the media that enabled it, and the posthumous processes - technological, commercial, ideological, and emotional - that have perpetuated it. The first part examines Dickens's culturalvision and practice - his model of authorship, journalism, public readings, relations with America, and the machine. The second explores Dickens's screen and "heritage" afterlives, as well as the visitor attraction, "Dickens World". His longtime presence on the ten-pound note symbolizes the book's guiding interest in the relationship between the commercial, cultural, and political aspects of Dickens's populist vision and legacy. John argues that the aspects of his art that have underscored critical ambivalence about Dickens -his relations with money, mechanical reproduction, and the mass market in particular - have ultimately ensured both his iconic cultural status and his centrality to the academic canon.

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That the idea of Dickens and the adjective "Dickensian" continue to have a cultural resonance which extends beyond the book-buying public almost two centuries after Dickens's birth is testimony to his sense of himself as a mass cultural artist. Juliet John contends that Dickens's popularity isunique, different even from that of Shakesp...

Juliet John is Hildred Carlile Chair of English Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.68 inPublished:November 26, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199675104

ISBN - 13:9780199675104

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Table of Contents

List of IllustrationsAcknowledgementsEditions and AbbreviationsIntroductionPART ONE - DICKENS IN HIS DAY1. The Amusements of the People: Cultural Politics, Class and Commerce2. 'A body without a head': Culture Shock in Dickens's American Notes (1842)3. 'Personal' Journalism: Getting Down into the Masses4. 'Coming Face to Face with Multitudes': The Public Readings5. Culture, Machines and Cultural IndustryPART TWO - AFTERLIVES6. Moving Pictures and Moving People: The Aesthetics of 'Mass Success'7. The Making of a Cultural Myth: Oliver Twist on Screen8. Heritage Dickens; or, Culture and the CommodityConclusion: Dickens World Past, Present and FutureBibliography

Editorial Reviews

"fascinating study ... The scope of John's analysis is most impressive ... Amidst the dizzying array of books published in anticipation of the Dickens bicentenary ... Dickens and Mass Culture [is] particularly notable ... Well-written, provocative, and historically informed ... fertile groundfor further sustained investigation of Dickens's 'grand design' particularly and Victorian cultural studies more generally." --Maria K. Bachman, Nines