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    ‘”A long, sunny harvest of taste and curiosity”: Collecting, aesthetics and the female body in Henry James’s 'The Spoils of Poynton’

    Mills, Victoria (2009) ‘”A long, sunny harvest of taste and curiosity”: Collecting, aesthetics and the female body in Henry James’s 'The Spoils of Poynton’. Women’s History Review 18 (4), pp. 669-686. ISSN 0961-2025.

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    The figure of the female collector in Henry James’s 1896 novel The Spoils of Poynton forms the basis of this contextual and theoretical analysis of collecting practices in the late nineteenth century, reading the text alongside letters and journals written by contemporary women collectors and in conjunction with fin‐de‐siècle theories of aesthetic response formulated by women. It discusses the contribution of the female collector to the field of cultural production and consumption and through this, to discourses of Victorian aestheticism. Central to this is a consideration of how collecting can be used as a representational strategy to explore aspects of gender identity and experience. Drawing on recent work in material culture studies, it shows how collections are used to explore gender differences, sexuality and the conflicts provoked by disparities in taste. After discussing the gendering of nineteenth‐century collecting and the aesthetics of production and consumption as played out in the Spoils, the article goes on to explore collecting and corporeality in relation to the female collections depicted in the novel. Drawing on the theories of anthropomorphic aesthetics developed by Vernon Lee and Clementina Anstruther‐Thomson, it examines how James uses the theme of collecting to explore different manifestations of the female body, gesturing to the multiple identities of the female aesthete.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Research Centres and Institutes: Nineteenth-Century Studies, Centre for
    Depositing User: Vicky Mills
    Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2020 14:19
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:49


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