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Forms of EmpireThe Poetics of Victorian Sovereignty$
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Nathan K. Hensley

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198792451

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198792451.001.0001

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Reading Endless War

(p.1) Introduction
Forms of Empire

Nathan K. Hensley

Oxford University Press

The Introduction uses the telegraphic messages from the so-called Indian Mutiny (1857–8) and the early war photography of Felice Beato (1832–1909) to advance the book’s methodological approach and reposition debates in Media Studies, formalism, and political theory with an account of what I call “curatorial reading”: the sympathetic analysis of Victorian objects that also models care for the human injury those documents necessarily mediate. Caring for Victorian literary objects in their textured particularity, I claim, requires us to see their affordances against those of other media technologies—the telegraph, the ballad, and the bureaucratic dispatch, for example, all of which receive analysis here. Victorian literary writing, I suggest, works in ways akin to Beato’s fragile pictures and the hypermediated dispatches from the front lines of the counterinsurgency, since they reconfigure in active, poetic ways the physical harm animating liberal England’s modernity.

Keywords:   violence, historicism, Indian Mutiny, Felice Beato, photography, telegraphic messages, war, liberalism, interpretation, reading

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