Theses Doctoral

The Research Aesthetic: Information and the Form of the Victorian Novel

Eckert, Sierra C.

This dissertation locates the emergence of a modern conception of information in the work of Victorian novelists and novel critics. In a period where the novel is most often understood as a genre interested in depicting total worlds, Victorian novelists lingered on aesthetic and social methods for organizing the informational minutiae that made up such worlds. Novelists developed baroque plots around marriage registers and memos. Even more notably, they conducted research: consulting and creating notebook lists, tabular arrays, archival records, and pre-printed survey forms as strategies for linking the work and the world.

In this dissertation, I draw on both literary critical analysis and original archival research to show how the research of Victorian novelists wrestled with the social and aesthetic conventions of abstract data. At its core, my project shows how nineteenth-century definitions of authorship and narrative form emerge from some of the most routinized practices of storage, search and retrieval.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
English and Comparative Literature
Thesis Advisors
Dames, Nicholas J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 11, 2020