Strangers in the Archive: Literary Evidence and London's East End

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University of Virginia Press, 2022 - East End (London, England) - 221 pages

Traditionally the scene of some of London's poorest, most crime-ridden neighborhoods, the East End of London has long been misunderstood as abject and deviant. As a landing place for migrants and newcomers, however, it has also been memorably and colorfully represented in the literature of Victorian authors such as Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde. In Strangers in the Archive, Heidi Kaufman applies the resources of archives both material and digital to move beyond icon and stereotype to reveal a deeper understanding of East End literature and culture in the Victorian age.

Kaufman uncovers this engaging new perspective on the East End through Maria Polack's Fiction without Romance (1830), the first novel to be published by an English Jew, and through records of Polack's vibrant community. Although scholars of nineteenth-century London and readers of East End fictions persist in privileging sensational narratives of Jack the Ripper and the infamous "Fagin the Jew" as signs of universal depravity among East End minority ethnic and racial groups, Strangers in the Archive considers how archival materials are uniquely capable of redressing cultural silences and marginalized perspectives as well as reshaping conceptions of the global significance of literary and print culture in nineteenth-century London.

Many of this book's subjects--including digital editions of rare books and manuscript diaries, multimedia maps, and other related East End print records--can be viewed online at the Lyon Archive and the Polack Archive.

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About the author (2022)

Heidi Kaufman is Associate Professor of English at the University of Oregon and author of English Origins, Jewish Discourse, and the Nineteenth-Century British Novel: Reflections on a Nested Nation and co-editor of Caribbean Jewish Crossings: Literary History and Creative Practice (Virginia).

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