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Portraiture and British gothic fiction: the rise of picture identification, 1764-1835

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsMonograph


Publication date11/2012
Place of PublicationBaltimore, Md.
PublisherJohns Hopkins University Press
Number of pages336
ISBN (Print)9781421407173
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This book probes how, in late eighteenth-century Britain, as Enlightenment philosophy and scientific writings eroded traditional beliefs, as radicals and reformers challenged political structures, as riots and revolutions proliferated, as new technologies, industrialization, rising populations, and increased social and geographic mobility changed professional, social, and familial identities, Gothic fiction intensified and sensationalized mass identity crises for a mass audience. Drawing on contemporaneous works on portraiture, literature, politics, economics, philosophy, religion, history, heraldry, law, education, science, anthropology, linguistics, psychology, physiognomy, and travel literature, as well as other literary genres, the monograph examines how Gothic fiction mythologized the spread of picture identification from the titled, wealthy, and celebrated (as well as the infamous) to the ordinary, middling ranks of British society, and the changing theories and practices of identification that fostered, accompanied, and followed it.