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Victorian Literature and the Physics of the Imponderable (Hardback)

P&S History > Humanities > Philosophy

Imprint: University of Pittsburgh Press
Series: Science and Culture in the Nineteenth Century
Pages: 216
ISBN: 9780822945017
Published: 1st June 2015
Casemate UK Academic

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The Victorians are known for their commitment to materialism, evidenced by the dominance of empiricism in the sciences and realism in fiction. Yet there were other strains of thinking during the period in the physical sciences, social sciences, and literature that privileged the spaces between the material and immaterial. This book examines how the emerging language of the “imponderable” helped Victorian writers and physicists make sense of new experiences of modernity. As Sarah Alexander argues, while Victorian physicists were theorizing ether, energy and entropy, and non-Euclidean space and atom theories, writers such as Charles Dickens, William Morris, and Joseph Conrad used concepts of the imponderable to explore key issues of capitalism, imperialism, and social unrest.

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