Associate Professor Lee Behlman has published a new edited collection for Palgrave/Macmillan, Victorian Verse: The Poetics of Everyday Life, with CUNY-Lehman College English Professor Olivia Loksing Moy. Carolyn Williams at Rutgers University has called this book a “wonderful volume” that is “a pleasure to read,” and Tricia Lootens at the University of Georgia has called it “revelatory” and “an exhilarating collection.”
This groundbreaking work studies how 19th-century poetry was embedded in daily life for, well, just about everyone in Great Britain, from children to laborers to commuters to intellectuals. It served a wide range of functions–educational, ceremonial, recreational, and, of course, aesthetic.
Victorian Verse: The Poetics of Everyday Life casts new light on nineteenth-century poetry by examining the period through its popular verse forms and their surrounding social and media landscape. The volume offers insight into two central concepts of both the Victorian era and our own―status and taste―and how cultural hierarchies then and now were and are constructed and broken. By recovering the lost diversity of Victorian verse, the book maps the breadth of Victorian writing and reading practices, illustrating how these seemingly minor verse genres actually possessed crucial social functions for Victorians, particularly in education, leisure practices, the cultural production of class, and the formation of individual and communal identities. The essays consider how “major” Victorian poets, such as the Pre-Raphaelites, were also committed to writing and reading “minor” verse, further troubling the clear-cut notions of canonicity by examining the contradictions of value.