Elsie Michie (Louisiana State University), Cleverness: A Victorian Aesthetic Category

JAN 31, 2014 | 4:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue


4406: English Student Lounge


January 31, 2014: 4:00 PM




Elsie Michie (Louisiana State University),
Elsie Michie (Louisiana State University), “Cleverness: A Victorian Aesthetic Category”
Like the cuteness that Sianne Ngai has analyzed in relation to modern art, cleverness was for the Victorians typically opposed to a higher aesthetic category, genius, and, as Frances’s and Anthony Trollope’s novels show, linked to the evolution of capitalism, particularly of an economy in which money played an increasingly dominant role. While repeatedly relegated to the apparently second-class status of the “clever novelist,” both Frances and Anthony embraced that position, understanding cleverness to be key to the emergence and development of the Victorian novel as a form that reflected the changing complexion of nineteenth-century social interactions. Stretching from 1832 to 1882, the combined careers of Frances and Anthony Trollope allow us to track the evolving usage of cleverness over a fifty-year period.
Elsie Michie (Louisiana State University),
Elsie Michie (Louisiana State University),