‘Acts of Memory: The Victorians and Beyond’

I’m delighted to be able to say that Acts of Memory: The Victorians and Beyond, edited by myself and Ryan Barnett, and with a beautiful cover designed by Louise Barr, has just been published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

 As various critics have noted, the concept of memory was a topic of immense importance for the Victorians; be it in the form of remembrance, nostalgia, amnesia, or mourning. This is nowhere more evident than in the literature of the period where acts of memory provide the focal point in numerous Victorian literary texts. For the Victorians, it seems, the act of memory was indissociable from the art of literature. Acts of Memory: The Victorians and Beyond engages with the interconnections that existed between literature and memory in the nineteenth century with nine lively, informative, and accessible essays written by a combination of established academics and up-and-coming scholars, as well as an “Afterword” by Professor Roger Ebbatson. The essays in this collection arise from an international conference held in Birmingham in 2007, which generated considerable academic interest and vibrant new work, and from selected papers a refined and considered collection has been produced. Discussing well-known literary figures, texts, and movements (as well as some less well-known), alongside key theoretical, psychological, and philosophical works, the essays in this collection offer a rich, stimulating, and diverse exploration of the concept of memory within (and at times beyond) the Victorian era.

The contents are:

Introduction (Ryan Barnett and Serena Trowbridge)

Sentimental Journey: Memory and Repetition in Ola Hansson’s Narratives of Return (Anna Jörngården)

 Memory Possessed: Trauma and Pathologies of Remembrance in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights  (Alexandra Lewis)

 Childhood’s Dream and Memory’s Nightmare: Lewis Carroll’s Alice Stories and Jan Švankmajer’s Něco z Alenky (Vivian Kao)

 ‘My present Past’: Memory and Identity in the Poetry of George Eliot  (Gregory Tate)

 Repressed Memories versus Pleasurable Revivals: The Traumatic and Joyful Encounters with the Spectre in Victorian Literary Ghostly Tales (Antonio Sanna)

 Landscape of life: past and present in All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West (Malgorzata Milczarek)

Virginia Woolf and Tennyson: remembering the Victorians  (John Morton)

 “Before the Mirror”: reflections and recollections in the Pre-Raphaelite/ Aesthetic Circle (Anne Anderson)

 ‘Nothing can wipe out the memory’: remembering the dead in Florence Marryat’s ‘The Box with the Iron Clamps’   (Georgina O’Brien Hill)

 Afterword (Roger Ebbatson)

Find out more on CSP’s website, or buy it on Amazon.


  1. Hope the book does very well 🙂

    I would agree with your comment that for the Victorians, the act of memory was indissociable from the art of literature. But I would argue that the act of memory was equally as important in painting, architecture, furniture design, landscaping and almost every other creative endeavour.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Hels – and yes, you’re quite right, it’s a wider phenomenon than just literature – the book does cover a bit of art history but apart from that is primarily literary, but there’s scope for future work!

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