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    The sentimental touch: Dickens's Old Curiosity Shop and the feeling reader

    Tilley, Heather (2011) The sentimental touch: Dickens's Old Curiosity Shop and the feeling reader. Journal of Victorian Culture 16 (2), pp. 226-241. ISSN 1355-5502.

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    Abstract

    In this essay I analyse Dickens's gift of 250 copies of the Old Curiosity Shop in embossed type to the Perkins Institution for the Blind in 1868. I consider the way in which a blind ‘feeling reader’ may have accessed sentimental fiction, focusing on the tension between this as an empowering moment for the blind person, expanding available literature, and the ways in which the novel's sentimental content may have reinforced stereotypes about disability as a pitiful condition. I argue that certain disciplinary agenda underline the publication, which sought to manage pupils' emotional and moral selves through the sentimental content and the visual, material form of the alphabet in which the edition was printed. Approaching Dickens's novel with a disability studies consciousness, I identify two contradictory workings of the sentimental mode in The Old Curiosity Shop: first, a conservative reinscription of cultural norms about the body; second, a sympathetic recognition of the need to care for all bodies in their difference.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Dickens, Laura Bridgman, Samuel Gridley Howe, sentimentality, disability, embossed writing, touch
    School: School of Arts > English, Theatre and Creative Writing
    Research Centres and Institutes: Nineteenth-Century Studies, Centre for
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2014 14:11
    Last Modified: 06 Dec 2016 10:28
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/9378

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