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About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the presentation of the British Empire in the novel, focusing in particular on the historical events that may inform the action of the novel, in particular the Siege(s) of Seringapatam in 1799, the wave of popular revolutions that spread through Europe in 1848, and the Indian Rebellion of 1857. We also consider the role of the various 'colonial' characters in the play – the comical Mrs Clack and the sanctimonious (and ultimately hypocritical and villainous) Christian missionary Godfrey Abelwhite – as we try to understand the presentation of Empire in the novel is sympathetic or critical.
In this course, Dr Christopher Pittard (University of Portsmouth) explores Wilkie Collins' 1868 novel The Moonstone. The course begins with a general introduction to the novel and its status as one of the earliest detective novels in the English language, before moving on to consider the presentation of the diamond in the novel, which is both unfathomable and mesmerising to those that gaze into its depths. In the third module, we explore the themes of sexuality and desire in the novel – why is Miss Verinder so upset that someone has come into her room at night and 'stolen her jewel'? what does it mean for Rosanna Spearman and Limping Lucy to 'live like sisters' in London? – before moving on in the fourth module to consider the presentation of colonialism in the novel. In this module, we think in particular about the several historical events that may have influence Collins in his writing of the novel, as well as the presentation of the several 'colonial' characters in the novel, including Mrs Clack and Godfrey Ablewhite. In the fifth, we think about the narrative structure of the text – both in terms of its original publication in weekly instalments as well as the use of multiple narrators – before moving on in the sixth module to think about the multiple endings to the novel – from Betteredge's confidant sense of closure ("Ladies and gentlemen, I make my bow, and shut up the story"), to Mr Murthwaite's rather more tentative conclusion ("What will be the next adventures of the Moonstone? Who can tell?").
Dr Christopher Pittard joined the University of Portsmouth in 2009, having held previous teaching positions at Newcastle University and the University of Exeter. His main research focus is on the popular culture of the nineteenth century, especially the emergence of popular genres in the Victorian fin de siecle and detective fiction in particular. His monograph, Purity and Contamination in Late Victorian Detective Fiction, considers how such fictions (and the periodicals in which they appeared) engaged with ideas of material and social purity, ranging from Sherlock Holmes cleaning the face of criminality in “The Man with the Twisted Lip” to the moral policing carried out by the Social Purity movements and late Victorian antivivisection campaigns. His publications in this area include discussions of Arthur Conan Doyle, Arthur Morrison, Fergus Hume, and of the Strand Magazine more widely.
Cite this Lecture
Pittard, C. (2018, August 15). Collins: The Moonstone - Colonialism [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/collins-the-moonstone/colonialism
Pittard, Christopher. "Collins: The Moonstone – Colonialism." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018, https://www.massolit.io/courses/collins-the-moonstone/colonialism