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Title: Roads and the eighteenth-century novel : turnpikes : new topographies and changing narratives
Author: Ewers, Christopher David
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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The turnpike roads that covered most of Britain between 1720-1820 had a transformative effect on British culture. They altered the experience of mobility, changing the way people moved through the landscape, and this had important consequences for the way the novel developed. The rapid rise of the novel is co-terminous with the rise of the turnpike system. The novel thrives on what is new, and the turnpikes fed this desire for ʻnovelʼ places to describe. While turnpikes have long been a subject for economic historians and geographers, their cultural impact has been underestimated. Interest in the ʻruptureʼ event of the railways has tended to belittle the changes to domestic travel made before 1830. In fact, many of the changes ascribed to the railway age – a focus on destination, a new speed-up of society, the dullness and flattening out of travel – were instigated by the turnpike network. Turnpikes were the tipping point where the accelerated culture associated with modernity first started to take hold. Turnpikes were also a specific type of road, changing topographies in a very distinct way that tended to make travel commodified, constricted and quotidian. Each chapter explores different effects of the turnpikes, and the ways in which they changed the novel, with chapters on roads and class; the politics of routes and modes of transport; roads and narrative; roads and landscape; roads and gender and roads and ʻspaceʼ. Each section focuses on one author, with chapters on Defoe, Fielding, Smollett, Sterne, Austen and Scott, while bringing their work into contingency with a number of lesser-known authors. The approach uses historical and geographical analysis to inform the study of narrative to see how a societyʼs infrastructure relates to the structure of its fiction. Reading eighteenth-century fiction through the turnpike revolution demonstrates how models of movement are central to the dynamics of the novel.
Supervisor: Brant, Clare Victoria ; McDonagh, Josephine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available