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June 2015
216 pages  
20 b&w Illustrations
6 x 9
9780822945017
Hardcover $45.00 Add to cart
9780822964858
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Victorian Literature and the Physics of the Imponderable
Alexander, Sarah
The Victorians are known for their commitment to materialism, evidenced by the dominance of empiricism in the sciences and realism in fiction. Yet there were other strains of thinking during the period in the physical sciences, social sciences, and literature that privileged the spaces between the material and immaterial. This book examines how the emerging language of the “imponderable” helped Victorian writers and physicists make sense of new experiences of modernity.

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Sarah C. Alexanderis an associate professor of English at the University of Vermont.
“An important and original contribution to an emergent subfield within Victorian studies—that which considers the relations between Victorian literature and the physical sciences, notably thermodynamics or energy physics.”—Barri J. Gold, Muhlenberg College

Complete Description Reviews
Science and Culture in the Nineteenth Century
History of Science
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The Victorians are known for their commitment to materialism, evidenced by the dominance of empiricism in the sciences and realism in fiction. Yet there were other strains of thinking during the period in the physical sciences, social sciences, and literature that privileged the spaces between the material and immaterial. This book examines how the emerging language of the “imponderable” helped Victorian writers and physicists make sense of new experiences of modernity. As Sarah Alexander argues, while Victorian physicists were theorizing ether, energy and entropy, and non-Euclidean space and atom theories, writers such as Charles Dickens, William Morris, and Joseph Conrad used concepts of the imponderable to explore key issues of capitalism, imperialism, and social unrest.
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