19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, No 6 (2008)

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On Stuff

Clare Pettitt


This review essay takes Bill Brown's question, how we ask things 'to make meaning, to remake ourselves, to organize our anxieties and affections, and to sublimate our fears and shape our fantasies' as a starting point for considering Dickens's affective relationships with household objects (now on display at the Charles Dickens Museum). Quite what they meant to him and what his affective relationship to them might now mean to us is a question which – if taken properly seriously – plunges us into a profound encounter with the object world – with the plethora of things that make up our daily habitudes. Reviewing recent studies on the material imagination by Bill Brown, Elaine Freedgood and Carolyn Steedman, this essay examines the relationship between the subject and the material in the Victorian novel.

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