Working group on the novel

Please join us on Tuesday, February 13 for the Working Group on the Novel, which will be held from 6-8 pm in the Terrace Room of Margaret Jacks Hall.Mark Taylor (PhD candidate, English) will present a chapter excerpt from his dissertation, titled “The Many Men, So Beautiful: The Victorian Political Novel and the Politics of Representation.” Mark Algee-Hewitt, Assistant Professor of English and director of the Stanford Literary Lab, will serve as Mark’s respondent.

Here’s what Mark has to say about his work:

The first academic monograph on the political novel, published in 1924 by Morris Edmund Speare, confidently declares that “the Political Novel has now become definitely established as a genre in English letters.” Subsequent critics, however, have not been so sure, and recent accounts of the novel’s relationship to politics have tended to elide genre and form, seeing all novels as equally political. In this excerpt, taken from the second chapter of my dissertation, I attempt, if not to answer, then at least to clarify the stakes and significance of this question about genre by recasting it as one about representation. I examine two prominent series of Victorian political novels that thematize both senses (aesthetic and political) of representation and the relationship between them: Benjamin Disraeli’s Young England trilogy from the 1840s, and Anthony Trollope’s Palliser novels from the 1860s and 1870s. Opposed on most questions of politics, as well as of taste and literary style, Disraeli and Trollope nevertheless share certain formal and stylistic features that mediate their engagement with politics in similar ways—ways that idealist aesthetic theory, I argue, helps us to understand and describe. I show how the aesthetic concepts of beauty and the symbol, which function within the larger idealist account of representation to connect art with morality and politics, also play a central role (at once enabling and limiting) in Victorian writers’ efforts to politicize the novel form.

We’ll circulate the chapter excerpt early next week.

Dinner and drinks will be provided. We hope to see many of you there!


winter 2018


Natalie Deam and Victoria Googasian French & Italian Caves, Fossil Men, and Ferromagnetics 6:00pm to 8:00pm Terrace
Mark Taylor and
Mark Algee-Hewitt
English The Many Men, So Beautiful: The Victorian Political Novel and the Politics of Representation 6:00pm to 8:00pm Terrace