Off the page: Simon Joyce on "Victorians in the Rearview Mirror"| March 27, 2008
Simon Joyce, associate professor of English at the College, came to America during strange times for a cultural historian. In his native England, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was calling for a return to the Victorian values that had made Great Britain great. In America, welfare vs. workfare debates soon would take center stage with the moral construct of the deserving vs. the undeserving poor. It was the political use of the past, Joyce said.
Joyce’s interest in new appropriation of the Victorian legacy ultimately led to his publishing The Victorians in the Rearview Mirror. The short book—174 pages—takes a broad look at the modernist literature that sought to break with the Victorians, at the Heritage films that emerged to market Britain in terms of its past and at the re-emergence of the once discarded Dickensian style of literature as a means of reconnecting social relationships.
Throughout all of his writing, Joyce helps us appreciate just who the Victorians were, and who they were not.