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Published on 15 Feb 2017
2017 Harlaxton Gold Room Lecture: Dr. Alice Crossley – “Victorian Valentines”
This presentation is concerned with tracing the value and significance ascribed to the Victorian valentine, the sending of which was a popular custom by the middle of the nineteenth century. Although sending love-tokens or witty cards as valentines was fashionable, the proliferation of mass-produced valentines increasingly raised concerns about the loss of sincerity, authenticity, and self-expression. This was exacerbated because cards were not only exchanged by lovers. Mean, vulgar comic cards were also posted anonymously between enemies or rivals. Rather than being dismissed as trivial, this paper will demonstrate that valentines play a fascinating role in the social and cultural life of the Victorian era. On the one hand, the modern valentine was perceived in terms of its growing trade presence and innovative commodity status. On the other, St. Valentine’s Day continued to be constructed as a nostalgic occasion redolent of tradition and superstition – as this presentation demonstrates. Alice Crossley is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Lincoln where she is a Programme Leader for English. She has published articles on Victorian masculinity and age studies (particularly youth), the Bildungsroman, and serialisation. Her monograph Male Adolescence in Mid-Victorian Fiction: Meredith, Thackeray, and Trollope is forthcoming with Routledge this year, and she recently published a volume of essays with Richard Salmon, Thackeray in Time: History, Memory and Modernity. With Claudia Capancioni, she is organising the BAVS conference next year in 2017, on the theme of 'Victorians Unbound' in Lincoln. Her current projects focus on valentines in the nineteenth century. Earlier work in this area appeared in JVC Online: http://blogs.tandf.co.uk/jvc/2013/02/...