Gendered Genres: Professional History Versus Antiquarianism and the Historical Novel

  • Helen Kingstone
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


Professionalizing late-Victorian historians sought status for their discipline by defining it as masculine, while marginalizing other modes as feminine. Chapter 4 first shows how gendered are our ideas of both history and the novel. Charles Reade exemplifies attempts to masculinize the novel through his “matter-of-fact romances.” Kingstone then uses periodical reviews and lectures to show how the historical novel and antiquarianism both became gendered as feminine. Reviews of historical novels by Walter Scott and Edward Bulwer-Lytton praised them as noble and manly. By mid-century, however, reviews characterized the genre as overly full of superficial detail. The same denigrating labels were applied to antiquaries, the amateur scholars of material culture. This chapter shows how heavily gendered were debates about the merits of different historical genres.


Literary History Contemporary History Professional History Historical Romance Gender Discourse 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Kingstone
    • 1
  1. 1.Leeds Centre for Victorian StudiesLeeds Trinity UniversityLeedsUnited Kingdom

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