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Understanding the Victorians


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Table of Contents

List of figures

Preface to the second edition



'Playing on the Piano-forte': Introduction

1 - A 'Green and Pleasant Land' of Cities and Slums: Space

2 - 'Discussions on the subject of Reform': Politics

3 - Ruling the World: Imperialism

4 - Wealth and Poverty, Growth and Slumps: the Economy

5 - 'Bristling with Shops': Consumption

6 - 'Born into the Lower-Upper-Middle': Class

7 - 'Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside': Leisure

8 - 'A Common Cause with All the Females in This Kingdom': Gender

9 - A 'Dignified Part': Monarchy

10 - 'The Court Was Crowded All Day': Law

11 - 'Good, Murderous Melodramas': Arts and Entertainment

12 - Marriage, Free Love and 'Unnatural Crimes': Sexuality

13 - 'Begin and End with the Church Whatever You Do Between-Whiles': Religion

14 - Vestiges and Origins: Science Index

About the Author

Susie L. Steinbach is Professor of History at Hamline University. She is the author of Women in England 1760-1914: A Social History (2004) and the editor of Millicent Garret Fawcett by her Contemporaries (2008), and has written widely on Victorian history, with a particular emphasis on gender and the law.


"The engaging style and comprehensive coverage of Susie Steinbach's Understanding the Victorians makes it perfect for an advanced undergraduate class, while the wealth of information it provides on a range of topics - including space, consumption, sexuality, and religion - will enlighten even the Victorian specialist. My students love this book as much as I do."

Carol Herringer, Wright State University, USA

"This lively, engaging book is a superb introduction to the world of the Victorians. Employing a thematic approach that ranges from class and consumption to science and sexuality, Susie Steinbach succeeds in capturing the remarkable richness and complexity of nineteenth-century British culture and society."

Dane Kennedy, George Washington University, USA

"This refreshing and lively book offers a readable introduction to the Victorian period - presenting a fresh perspective on established themes in Victorian cultural history such as class, gender, religion and imperialism as well as bringing new agendas, including space and consumerism, to the fore. From the streets inhabited by the urban poor to the palaces of the aristocracy and the political elite, Steinbach deftly evokes the Victorian social and cultural world, bringing us closer to understanding the far-reaching social changes that swept over the British nation in this period."

Jane Hamlett, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

Steinbach's book is remarkable for its complex and nuanced understanding of culture and for the clarity in which this is expressed. Care is taken to pull out examples which represent the age, but analysis is subtle and aimed at gaining a precise understanding of their significance to Victorian society... [It] integrates old topics and new frameworks in a way that offers an overview of the discipline and which, through careful synthesis of diverse approaches, offers new perspectives on the Victorians and their place in British history."

Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature

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