Textual Encounters in Eliza Cook’s Journal
The first article of the first issue of Eliza Cook’s Journal (1849–54) was entitled ‘A Word to my Readers’, a title that seems to indicate a straightforward encounter between author/editor/publisher Eliza Cook and her readers. But of course no such encounter is without ambiguity. As Margaret Beetham reminds us, not only is it difficult to identify the actual readers of many journals, but any periodical ‘works by positioning its readers in a particular way’.1 Furthermore, the implied audience of Eliza Cook’s Journal has been a matter of debate. In this article, then, I first consider ideological encounters in periodicals in general and specifically in what Brian Maidment calls journals of popular progress.2 I next consider Eliza Cook’s Journal as a popular-progress journal by examining its implied readership(s), looking briefly at the Journal’s positioning of ‘the people’ and its discourses of the arts, and then in some detail at its discourses of the sciences. From there I consider Eliza Cook’s Journal as a women’s periodical, examining both the possible relations of reader to editor and the ways that women are represented in the Journal’s fiction. I conclude by exploring the possibility of lesbian encounters in the Journal and its fiction. My aim is not to settle the question of the genre or the audience of Eliza Cook’s Journal but to demonstrate the intractability as well as the richness of these questions.
KeywordsMoral Superiority Implied Reader Victorian Periodical Aesthetic Labour Popular Science Article
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