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Nineteenth-Century Forum: Dissertation Workshop with Ruth McAdams
"The Surface of the Past: Victorian Fictionalizations of the Napoleonic Wars"
This chapter analyzes William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (1848) and Thomas Hardy’s The Trumpet-Major (1880), two Victorian historical novels set during the Napoleonic Wars. The chapter argues that these works demonstrate a particular kind of historicism that is focused on surfaces—fashion, weaponry, and a certain kind of celebrity encounter. Although the seemingly facile quality of these novels’ engagement with historical materials has heretofore excluded them from consideration in scholarship on the historical novel writ large, this essay envisions these works as forming a slightly different but related sub-genre during the Victorian period that was important to the way readers and writers processed the recent past.
Ruth McAdams is a graduate student in English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan.
Location: 3241 AH