Periodical places : The London Journal 1845-1883.
This thesis centres on one of the most widely read illustrated fiction magazines
of the nineteenth century, The London Journal. Despite its popularity, this penny
weekly has received scant attention from either media historians or critics, partly
because of the lack of bibliographical tools. My account of its first series (1845 -
1883) aims not only to make up for this lack (notably through its electronic
appendices), but, in treating it as a case study, to explore various methods of
writing about periodicals in general. I argue the necessity for an interdisciplinary
vision that recognises that periodicals are commodities that occupy specific
places in a changing market. "Place" here can be understood as where the
periodical is located in cultural and geographical space by those who describe it,
as well as where it positions itself through its contents in terms of gender and
other identity categories.
After an Introduction in which I review academic work on the periodical and lay
out my theoretical presuppositions, I view the magazine from four main angles.
Chapter 2 discusses nineteenth-century accounts of The London Journal, treating
it not as a material body but as a polyvalent discursive entity. In the third chapter
I read the magazine through the optic of production, examining available
circulation figures, labour costs, and profits. I sketch the lives of several of its
editors, proprietors and authors, relating them to changes in the magazine's
contents, and considering the effects of rivalry with competitors in the same
cultural zone and of relations with other now more canonical literary areas.
Chapter 4 looks at The London Journal's changing gender profile over its first
series, linking it to politics and to consumerism. The electronic appendix maps
The London Journal bibliographically. Throughout I seek to locate and thereby
defetishise the commodity-text, not least by treating some units of reading that
are today considered paracanonical novels as parts of a periodical, rather than as
freestanding units. These serials comprise Braddon's Lady Audley's Secret
(1863) and a version of Zola's The Ladies' Paradise (1883). A Conclusion seeks
an autocritique and proposes areas for continued research.