In the last few decades Elizabeth Gaskell has become a figure of growing importance in the field of Victorian literary studies. She produced work of great variety and scope in the course of a highly successful writing career that lasted for about twenty years from the mid-1840s to her unexpected death in 1865. The essays in this Companion draw on recent advances in biographical and bibliographical studies of Gaskell and cover the range of her impressive and varied output as a writer of novels, biography, short stories, and letters. The volume, which features well-known scholars in the field of Gaskell studies, focuses throughout on her narrative versatility and her literary responses to the social, cultural, and intellectual transformations of her time. This Companion will be invaluable for students and scholars of Victorian literature, and includes a chronology and guide to further reading.
Jill Matus explores shock in Victorian fiction and psychology with startling results that reconfigure the history of trauma theory. Central to Victorian thinking about consciousness and emotion, shock is a concept that challenged earlier ideas about the relationship between mind and body. Although the new materialist psychology of the mid-nineteenth century made possible the very concept of a wound to the psyche - the recognition, for example, that those who escaped physically unscathed from train crashes or other overwhelming experiences might still have been injured in some significant way - it was Victorian fiction, with its complex explorations of the inner life of the individual and accounts of upheavals in personal identity, that most fully articulated the idea of the haunted, possessed, and traumatised subject. This wide-ranging book reshapes our understanding of Victorian theories of mind and memory and reveals the relevance of nineteenth-century culture to contemporary theories of trauma.