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date: 30 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The role that things, commodities, and ‘reification’ played in the writing of Marx and Dickens—as well as in the daily practice of nineteenth-century Britons—explains the Victorianist claim to intellectual priority when it comes to ‘thing theory’. Yet it is not easy to find helpful paradigms for explaining the distinctiveness of how Victorian thinkers make sense of the materiality of their habitus. Recent philosophical ‘object-centred’ approaches are generally unproductive when applied to the literary realm, while the anthropological bias towards rendering all study of objects the study of their social/communal function misses important, and distinctive, aesthetic features. Recent work by Isobel Armstrong, Leah Price, and others, however, suggests one approach: making sense of Victorian materiality and Victorian conceptions of materiality by considering Victorian books as the medium upon which representation occurs as well as a potential subject of such representation.

Keywords: materiality, thing, commodities, thing theory, property, object, book, history, aesthetic, representation

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