Jul 16, 2024  
Catalogue 2024-2025 
    
Catalogue 2024-2025
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GNCS 266 - Yellowbacks: The Exhibition

Semester Offered: Fall
unit(s)


(Same as ENGL 266 ) The ancestor of today’s cheap paperback novel, yellowbacks were a distinctive feature of the Victorian publishing landscape. Characterized by bold chromolithographed images on yellow strawboard covers (hence the “yellowback” name), these inexpensive reprints made literature affordable for the expanding reading audience of nineteenth-century Britain. Works by best-selling authors of the day, such as Anthony Trollope, Thomas Hardy, and Charles Dickens, appeared in yellowback editions as did those by older popular writers, including Jane Austen. Travel and etiquette guides, sensation novels, and comic series were also a staple of yellowback publishing. Originally sold from stalls in the newly-opened railway stations of Victorian Britain, these one-volume editions are indelibly associated with the speed, mobility, and modernity that the railroad itself represents.

In this intensive, students work with a collection of yellowbacks recently donated to Special Collections in order to prepare for a spring 2025 exhibition to be mounted in the Thompson Library. Students conduct original research on such topics as Victorian print culture, railway reading, the impact of industrialization and new technologies on publishing, the commodification of art, literacy and mass readership, popular taste and popular fiction. Students work directly with the materials in Special Collections, and their research and writing form the basis of the library’s exhibition. Susan Zlotnick.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

Course Format: INT



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