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A Room of his Own: A Literary-cultural Study of Victorian Clubland: Book by Barbara J. Black

A Room of his Own: A Literary-cultural Study of Victorian Clubland

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ISBN: 9780821420942    Publisher: Ohio University Press Year of publishing: 2014     Format:  Paperback No of Pages: 256        
In nineteenth-century London, a clubbable man was a fortunate man, indeed. The Reform, the Athenaeum, the Travellers, the Carlton, the United Service are just a few of the gentlemen's clubs that formed...Read more
In nineteenth-century London, a clubbable man was a fortunate man, indeed. The Reform, the Athenaeum, the Travellers, the Carlton, the United Service are just a few of the gentlemen's clubs that formed the exclusive preserve known as "clubland" in Victorian London - the City of Clubs that arose during the Golden Age of Clubs. Why were these associations for men only such a powerful emergent institution in nineteenth-century London? Distinctly British, how did these single-sex clubs help fashion men, foster a culture of manliness, and assist in the project of nation building? What can elite male affiliative culture tell us about nineteenth-century Britishness? A Room of His Own sheds light on the mysterious ways of male associational culture as it examines such topics as fraternity, sophistication, nostalgia, social capital, celebrity, gossip, and male professionalism. The story of clubland (and the literature it generated) begins with Britain's military heroes home from the Napoleonic campaign and quickly turns to Dickens' and Thackeray's acrimonious Garrick Club Affair.
It takes us to Richard Burton's curious Cannibal Club and Winston Churchill's The Other Club; it goes underground to consider Uranian desire and Oscar Wilde's clubbing and resurfaces to examine the problematics of belonging in Trollope's novels. The trespass of French socialist Flora Tristan, who cross-dressed her way into the clubs of Pall Mall, provides a brief interlude. London's clubland - this all-important room of his own - comes to life as Barbara Black explores the literary representations of clubland and the important social and cultural work that this urban site enacts. Our present-day culture of connectivity owes much to nineteenth-century sociability and Victorian networks; clubland reveals to us our own enduring desire to belong, to construct imagined communities, and to affiliate with like-minded comrades.
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About the author: Barbara J. Black
Barbara Black is an associate professor of English at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. She is the author of "On Exhibit: Victorians and Their... Read more
Barbara Black is an associate professor of English at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. She is the author of "On Exhibit: Victorians and Their Museums" (2000). Her work has appeared in such journals as "Nineteenth-Century Contexts, Victorian Poetry, " and "Salmagundi." She is a contributor to the volume "Dickens, Sexuality and Gender, " edited by Lillian Nayder (forthcoming July 2012).
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Review:
Her book is an absorbing and enlightening study of the importance of clubs to the formation of upper- and upper-middle class Victorian masculinity, as the Victorian gentleman searched for a room of...Read more
Her book is an absorbing and enlightening study of the importance of clubs to the formation of upper- and upper-middle class Victorian masculinity, as the Victorian gentleman searched for a room of his own, separate from both home and the workplace. Black takes us on a chronological tour of the Victorian gentleman's clubs in London and the colonies [...] For Black, the Victorian gentleman's club is a representation of embattled masculinity just as much as it is a statement of masculine power and confidence [...] Black deftly reveals how every club is a statement of both exclusion and inclusion; it needs its outsiders to help define those whom it chooses to let in [...] She ranges over the century with ease, and her obvious enthusiasm and love for London's old clubhouses and club culture makes this a very readable book." - Mary L. Shannon, Times Literary Supplement
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