King’s College London: Professor Clare Pettitt wins NAVSA Book Prize

The North American Victorian Studies Association (NAVSA) have announced the winner of this year’s annual book prize is King’s Professor, Clare Pettitt.

Serial-Forms
King’s English Professor Clare Pettitt has been announced as the NAVSA book prize winner for her book Serial Forms.

In Serial Forms, the first in a planned three-volume project, Clare takes a long-recognized element of the Victorian Era, serial publication, and reconceives it as one manifestation of a much larger way of understanding the world: “seriality.”

She argues that “seriality” is a form of “knowledge about being in time” that emerged in Britain during the second quarter of the nineteenth century as both an idea and a way of experiencing the world. Far more than a method of publishing or reading alone, Pettitt contends that “seriality” represented a “political, historical, and social category,” one that became the “defining form of modernity” by the early years of Victoria’s reign.

In advancing this argument, Pettitt leads us through a dazzling analysis of a wide variety of cultural artifacts—almanacks, broadsheets, penny newspapers, paintings, panoramas, novels, journals, and historical miniatures—demonstrating their larger implications for a society experiencing, inhabiting, and internalizing the logic of serialization. What did it mean to conceive of social life in spatial and temporal sequences? How did nineteenth-century Britons respond to a world increasingly presented to them as simultaneously orderly and progressive, but also eternally partial and incomplete?

Serial Forms asks us not only to reconsider the nature of the nineteenth century as a historic moment, but also how subsequent observers have conceptualized it, and how we might reconceptualise it anew in light of our own experiences in the twenty-first century as the inheritors of the world serialization helped to create. Pettitt’s book is sure to engage students of Victorian Studies across disciplines for many years to come.

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