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Reading: When Was the Nineteenth Century Where? Whither Victorian Studies?


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When Was the Nineteenth Century Where? Whither Victorian Studies?


Margot Finn

About Margot
Margot Finn works in the Department of History at Warwick University. Her research focuses on the intersections among social, cultural, legal and economic experience in modern Britain during the 'very long' nineteenth century. Publications include: The Character of Credit: Personal Debt in English Culture, 1740-1914. 'Colonial Gifts: Family Politics and Exchange of Goods in British India, c. 1780-1820' (forthcoming, Modern Asian Studies, vol. 40, part 1, February 2006, pp. 203-232) 'Law's Empire: English Legal Cultures at Home and Abroad', Historical Journal, 48, 1 (March 2005), 295-303. She is co-editor (with Colin Jones at Warwick and Keith Wrightson at Yale) of Cambridge University Press's new monograph series, Cambridge Social and Cultural Histories.
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Whilst acknowledging the usefulness of the descriptor ‘Victorian' to the work of social historians, this essay argues that a proper account of modernity, and of the Victorians' positioning within it, can only be apprehended by taking a longer view, be it within the framework of a long nineteenth or a long twentieth century. Finally, though, Finn argues that chronology is less important than the disciplinary and geographical boundaries of the field. The question should not be ‘when was the Victorian era?' but also ‘ where was it?' Interdisciplinarity, Britain's place in Europe, and the problems of empire are the three issues that Finn deems should be at the forefront of Victorian Studies in the twenty-first century.
How to Cite: Finn, M., 2006. When Was the Nineteenth Century Where? Whither Victorian Studies?. 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, (2), p.None. DOI:
Published on 01 Apr 2006.
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