Publication Details

Crozier-De Rosa, S. 2010, 'Popular fiction and the 'emotional turn': the case of women in late Victorian Britain', History Compass, vol. 8, no. 12, pp. 1340-1351.


Many within the history profession today consider that we are experiencing an 'emotional turn', a perception that has been spurred by a recent proliferation of research centres and outpouring of publications exploring the concept of emotion_ Interest in this field looks likely to grow, although there are methodological challenges that have yet to be overcome, as, of course, there are with any newly emerging field of study. One main concern is source material. Attempting to access such an elusive and intensely subjective area of historical inquiry as emotions requires seeking out new sources, as well as returning to old ones with a fresh eye, with new questions in mind. In the specific realm of the emotional lives of women living in Victorian and Edwardian Britain, fic-tion proves a promising source -popular fiction especially. This is due to the fact that this was the era that ushered in the modern bestseller, novels that more often than not explored the every-day and the emotional, novels that were thought to have been 'devoured' by women in particular. This essay plots recent developments in the burgeoning area of emotions history, as well as those that have taken place in relation to the use of fiction as evidence in a history of women's interior lives. It argues that, at this point in the development of emotions history, when questions of methodology, interdisciplinarity and sources are being addressed more widely, consideration should be given to popular fiction as a readily available pathway, if not an uncomplicated one, into the emotions of the past.



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