Sensation Fiction and Modernity

by James Aaron Green

Green, James Aaron (2024): Sensation Fiction and Modernity: The Meanings of Ambivalence in Mid-Victorian Britain. Palgrave Macmillan. 


From the publisher's website:
This book re-reads the relationship between the Victorian sensation novel and modernity. Whereas critics have long recognized its appearance in the form of nervous subjects and technologically-enabled mobility, Green contends that sensation fiction also depicts modernity in the form of intellectual and moral discontinuity. Through closely historicist readings of novels by Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, as well as by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu and Rhoda Broughton, this book traces how discontinuity is manifested in the suspenseful plotting of these fictions, through which readers are challenged to revise conventional assumptions about the world and adopt more contingent perspectives. The study demonstrates that reading for this sense of modernity does not merely uncover the genre's engagements with various mid-century contexts. More fundamentally, it broaches a new sense of the function and significance of sensation fiction: the acclimatization of its readers to the discontinuities of modern existence.

James Aaron Green is a postdoctoral researcher (ÖAW APART-GSK) at the Department of English and American Studies, University of Vienna. His current project (2021–24) is Living Forever: Fictions of Radical Life Extension, 1878–1918.