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Title: Queen Victoria : the monarch and the media, 1837-1867
Author: Plunkett, John Stephen
ISNI:       0000 0001 1471 0327
Awarding Body: Birkbeck College, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2000
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My thesis demonstrates the ways in which the growth of a mass print and visual culture in the nineteenth century influenced the political and civic development of the British monarchy. Queen Victoria was the first monarch to preside over conditions approaching a mass urban and industrial society. Her reign was the first in which the monarch was subject to both the political demands of a partially enfranchised public and the public demands of a nascent mass culture. In my view, these demands, and the symbiotic links between them, are crucial for understanding the invention of a populist monarchy. In conjunction with the wider social changes of the century, a burgeoning royal culture industry helped to radically transform the position of the monarchy in national life, while allowing the monarchy itself to survive relatively unaltered. Throughout Victoria's reign the royal family enjoyed an exceptional degree of mediated publicness. New forms of cheaply reproducing words and images meant that Victoria's image was ubiquitously available on a diverse assortment of media, ranging from engravings and magic lantern shows to street ballads and photographs. Moreover, the expansiveness of the royal culture industry was such that contemporary commentators invariably ascribed to it an overdetermined political agency. The modernity of Victoria's representation meant that it was the subject of a self-reflexive discourse by journals like Punch and the Spectator, and by such figures as Benjamin Disraeli and Walter Bagehot. The central argument of my thesis is that there was a crucial osmosis between the making of a media monarchy and the conception of Victoria's role as a populist and constitutional monarch-the consequences of which remain with us today.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available