By S. Thornton
From 1830 to 1870 ads introduced in its wake a brand new realizing of the way the topic learn and the way language operated. Sara Thornton provides a vital second in print tradition, the early acceptance of what we now name a 'virtual' global, and proposes new readings of key texts through Dickens and Balzac.
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Extra info for Advertising, Subjectivity and the Nineteenth-Century Novel: Dickens, Balzac and the Language of the Walls
Advertisements which block our vision or our paths and force the gaze to confront them are shown in cartoons such as one concerning ‘street 34 Advertising, Subjectivity, Nineteenth-Century Novel Figure 6 ‘The Billstickers’ Exhibition’, Punch, 1847 Source: British Library. ’98 Boldness and violence are seen as a feature of the image, especially in illustrations on the covers of magazines, which acted as advertisements for the magazine itself. One commentator in 1859 made the following comment: ‘The art employed upon these pictures is proper to the subject.
The individual does not remain untouched by the words he carries on himself. Like the placards carried by victims of the auto-da-fé on which their sins were listed for the eyes of all, these writings are shown to weigh upon the bearer who must bear the names. Text appended to a human figure without consent is an age-old form of humiliation and subjugation and persisted in the punitive practices of Victorian educational establishments: Jane in Jane Eyre and David in David Copperfield are both forced to wear placards as punishment in their schools.
The burdensome ‘letters of the Halfabet’ are carried painfully ‘above your shoulders braced’ and the general sense of being purveyors of writing is one of constriction and discomfort. By showing a sandwich man being active in his role or by allowing him to write a poem – to be a speaker instead of the mute support of text – is a way of wresting back some autonomy in the face of the text which writes him, of detaching text from the body in order to rewrite the self. All of these responses imply that the marking of advertisements on the human body is not skin deep but is part of a powerful process of the incorporation of certain norms.
Advertising, Subjectivity and the Nineteenth-Century Novel: Dickens, Balzac and the Language of the Walls by S. Thornton