Victorian Eye A Political History of Light and Vision in Britain, 1800-1910

ISBN-10: 0226640779
ISBN-13: 9780226640778
Edition: 2008
Authors: Chris Otter
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Description: During the nineteenth century, Britain became the first gaslit society, with electric lighting arriving in 1878. At the same time, the British government significantly expanded its power to observe and monitor its subjects. How did such enormous  More...

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Book details

Copyright year: 2008
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 11/1/2008
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 392
Size: 6.00" wide x 8.75" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.188
Language: English

During the nineteenth century, Britain became the first gaslit society, with electric lighting arriving in 1878. At the same time, the British government significantly expanded its power to observe and monitor its subjects. How did such enormous changes in the way people saw and were seen affect Victorian culture? To answer that question, Chris Otter mounts an ambitious history of illumination and vision in Britain, drawing on extensive research into everything from the science of perception and lighting technologies to urban design and government administration. He explores how light facilitated such practices as safe transportation and private reading, as well as institutional efforts to collect knowledge. And he contends that, contrary to presumptions that illumination helped create a society controlled by intrusive surveillance, the new radiance often led to greater personal freedom and was integral to the development of modern liberal society. The Victorian Eye7;s innovative interdisciplinary approach-and generous illustrationsshy;-will captivate a range of readers interested in the history of modern Britain, visual culture, technology, and urbanization.

Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Light, Vision, and Power
The Victorian Eye: The Physiology, Sociology, and Spatiality of Vision, 1800-1900
Oligoptic Engineering: Light and the Victorian City
The Age of Inspectability: Vision, Space, and the Victorian City
The Government of Light: Gasworks, Gaslight, and Photometry
Technologies of Illumination, 1870-1910
Securing Perception: Assembling Electricity Networks
Conclusion: Patterns of Perception
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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