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Moving Images

Nineteenth-Century Reading and Screen Practices

Helen Groth

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Examines the moving image in relation to nineteenth-century literature, theories of mind, and visual media

This book examines how the productive interplay between nineteenth-century literary and visual media paralleled the emergence of a modern psychological understanding of the ways in which reading, viewing and dreaming generate moving images in the mind. Reading between these parallel histories of mind and media reveals a dynamic conceptual, aesthetic and technological engagement with the moving image that, in turn, produces a new understanding of the production and circulation of the work of key nineteenth-century writers, such as Lord Byron, Walter Scott, Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray. As Helen Groth shows, this engagement is both typical of the nineteenth-century in its preoccupation with questions of automatism and volition (unconscious and conscious thought), spirit and materiality, art and machine, but also definitively modern in its secular articulation of the instructive and entertaining applications of making images move both inside and outside the mind.

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List of Illustrations
Introduction: Moving Images: Nineteenth-Century Reading and Screen Practices
Chapter 1: Moving Books in Regency London
Chapter 2: Byronic Networks: Circulating Images in Minds and Media
Chapter 3: Natural Magic and the Technologies of Reading: David Brewster and Sir Walter Scott
Chapter 4: Reading Habits and Magic Lanterns: Dickens and Dr Pepper’s Ghost
Chapter 5: Dissolving Views: Dreams of Reading Alice
Chapter 6: Flickering Effects: George Robert Sims and the Psychology of the Moving Image
Chapter 7: Literary Projections and Residual Media: Cecil Hepworth and Robert Paul

About the Author

Helen Groth is Professor of English in the School of the Arts and Media at UNSW Australia. She is the author of Victorian Photography and Literary Nostalgia (2003), Moving Images: Nineteenth Century Reading and Screen Practices (2013), (with Natalya Lusty) Dreams and Modernity. A Cultural History (2013), Victorian Photography and Literary Nostalgia (2003) and the co-editor of Mindful Aesthetics: Literature and the Science of Mind (2014).


A carefully researched study of the new visual wonders of the nineteenth-century—the kaleidoscope, the magic lantern, the dissolving view, the Thaumatrope, and Phenakistoscope. It shows, with wonderful illumination of its own, how they shaped literary practice and "psychological aesthetics" in the decades before cinema.

- James Chandler, University of Chicago

Helen Groth's brilliant study opens new vistas for thinking about literature and moving images. From Byron onwards, Groth brings this world to life in ways that help us understand the complexity of the relationship between words and images for their time and ours.

- Jon Mee, University of York

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