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Grant number: FT-53201-05

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Sean C. Grass
Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX 79409-0006)

Theft and the Commodification of Identity in Victorian Narrative

Between 1850 and 1870 in England, autobiography and sensation fiction emerged simultaneously as major sub-genres of narrative prose. But no study has explained why these sub-genres—apparently so different—appealed strongly to Victorian readers, nor whether they share cultural or ideological roots. “Portable Property” will employ the methodologies used by scholars of both sub-genres to make two new arguments about Victorian literature: (1) that the growing mid-century impulse to turn self-narration into a commodity produced deep cultural anxiety about the instability of identity; and (2) that this anxiety produced a new literary form—the Victorian sensation novel—obsessed with the consequences of making identity into “portable property.”

[Grant products]

Project fields:
British Literature

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$5,000 (approved)
$5,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2005 – 7/31/2005