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Sweeney Todd and the Chartist Gothic: Politics and Print Culture in Early Victorian Britain
chapterposted on 2023-07-26, 15:06 authored by Rohan McWilliam
This chapter argues that the Gothic shaped radical language in the 1840s but became less relevant to the populist liberalism of the mid-Victorian years. It is a historical orthodoxy that the defeat of Chartism in 1848 marked a caesura in popular politics. The chapter offers a new way of thinking about the major shift in the political imaginary that took place. Popular liberalism championed political and social reform whilst viewing free trade as integral to progress. In the Chartist Gothic world view power and wealth, rather than having been modernised by liberalisation of the economy, remain with the aristocracy. The devices of the Gothic were redeployed to make sense of the modern city, creating a startling disjunction between fantastic plots and brutal reality. The Chartist Gothic provided the everyday with a form of enchantment. The working-class public sphere was constructed from information and news about the domestic and global system but also from the dark shadows of the Gothic.
Place of publicationNew York
Title of bookEdward Lloyd and His World: Popular Fiction, Politics and the Press in Victorian Britain
EditorsSarah L. Lill, Rohan McWilliam