Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.669943
Title: The aesthetics of sugar : concepts of sweetness in the nineteenth century
Author: Tate, Rosemary
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2010
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Abstract:
My thesis examines the concept of sweetness as an aesthetic category in nineteenth-century British culture. My contention is that a link exists between the idea of sweetness as it appears in literary works and sugar as an everyday commodity with a complex history attached. Sugar had changed from being considered as a luxury in 1750 to a mass-market staple by the 1850s, a major cultural transition which altered the concept of sweetness as a taste. In the thesis I map the consequences of this shift as they are manifest in a range of texts from the period, alongside parallel changes in the aesthetic category of sweetness. I also assess the relationship between the material history of sweetness and the separate but related concept of aesthetic sweetness. In focussing on the relationship between sugar and sweetness in the Victorian period this thesis examines an area of nineteenth-century life that has previously never been subject to detailed study. Although several critics have explored the connection between sugar and concepts of sweetness as they relate to abolitionist debates in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, my focus differs in that I assert that other material histories of sugar played as significant a role in developing discourses of sweetness. Throughout this study, which spans the period 1780-1870, I draw on a range of sources across a variety of genres, including abolitionist pamphlets, medical textbooks, the novels of Charlotte Brontë and Wilkie Collins, the cultural criticism of Matthew Arnold and Walter Pater, and the poetry of Christina Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne. I conclude that literary cultures in the nineteenth century increasingly use discourses of sugar to relate to the mass market and explore the commercialisation of literature, at a time when a growing commodity culture was seen as a threat to literary integrity.
Supervisor: Evangelista, Stefano ; McDonagh, Josephine Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.669943  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Victorian Literature ; Nineteenth-Century Literature ; Aesthetics ; Matthew Arnold ; Charlotte Bronte ; Walter Pater ; Sweetness ; Sugar ; Sensation Fiction ; Commodity Culture ; Algernon Charles Swinburne ; Material Culture ; Abolitionism
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