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Title: The lightscape of literary London, 1880-1950
Author: Ludtke, Laura Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 1995
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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From the first electric lights in London along Pall Mall, and in the Holborn Viaduct in 1878 to the nationalisation of National Grid in 1947, the narrative of the simple ascendency of a new technology over its outdated predecessor is essential to the way we have imagined electric light in London at the end of the nineteenth century. However, as this thesis will demonstrate, the interplay between gas and electric light - two co-existing and competing illuminary technologies - created a particular and peculiar landscape of light, a 'lightscape', setting London apart from its contemporaries throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Indeed, this narrative forms the basis of many assertions made in critical discussions of artificial illumination and technology in the late-twentieth century; however, this was not how electric light was understood at the time nor does it capture how electric light both captivated and eluded the imagination of contemporary Londoners. The influence of the electric light in the representations of London is certainly a literary question, as many of those writing during this period of electrification are particularly attentive to the city's rich and diverse lightscape. Though this has yet to be made explicit in existing scholarship, electric lights are the nexus of several important and ongoing discourses in the study of Victorian, Post-Victorian, Modernist, and twentieth-century literature. This thesis will address how the literary influence of the electric light and its relationship with its illuminary predecessors transcends the widespread electrification of London to engage with an imaginary London, providing not only a connection with our past experiences and conceptions of the city, modernity, and technology but also an understanding of what Frank Mort describes as the 'long cultural reach of the nineteenth century into the post-war period'.
Supervisor: Whitworth, Michael Sponsor: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Conrad ; Joseph ; 1857-1924 ; Huxley ; Aldous ; 1894-1963 ; Literature and science--Great Britain--History--20th century ; Chesterton ; G. K. ; 1874-1936 ; Greene ; Graham ; 1904-1991 ; Woolf ; Virginia ; 1882-1941 ; History of science ; Electric lighting ; Richardson ; Dorothy ; 1873-1957 ; Literature and science--Great Britain--History--19th century ; Bowen ; Elizabeth ; 1899-1973 ; Bennett ; Arnold ; 1867-1931 ; Orwell ; George ; 1903-1950 ; History of technology ; Stoker ; Bram ; 1847-1912 ; English Language and Literature ; Wells ; H. G. ; 1866-1946 ; Marsh ; Richard ; 1857-1915 ; gothic fiction ; detective fiction ; British literature ; modernism ; literature and science ; spy fiction ; Arnold Bennett ; Virginia Woolf ; science fiction