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Forms of EmpireThe Poetics of Victorian Sovereignty$
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Nathan K. Hensley

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198792451

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198792451.001.0001

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Reform Fiction’s Logic of Belonging

Reform Fiction’s Logic of Belonging

Chapter:
(p.85) 2 Reform Fiction’s Logic of Belonging
Source:
Forms of Empire
Author(s):

Nathan K. Hensley

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198792451.003.0003

This chapter shows how Reform-era potboilers about the lost people like No Name (1863), The Woman in White (1860), and Lady Audley’s Secret (1862) tactically reconfigure the mechanism of exclusion animating mass democracy. Following lost people until they become counted subjects, these plots—seen in dialogue with texts about induction like J. S. Mill’s A System of Logic (1843–73) and Karl Marx’s Capital (1867)—allegorize the state’s efforts to uplift particular bodies and convert them into members of a set, “citizens.” Armadale’s double-generational plot goes further, locating the violent origins of democratic induction in slavery and directing our attention to those cast out from law’s avowedly universal embrace. What the lost-person plots of the sensation novel mediate, then, is how abandonment and belonging evolved as mutually dependent characteristics of life at the center of capitalist modernity.

Keywords:   sensation fiction, Wilkie Collins, 1867 Reform Bill, democracy, violence, law, abandonment, biopolitics, urban studies, modernity

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