Jim Mussell (University of Leeds) will be presenting his paper, ‘Moving Things: Media and Mediation in Dickens’s Mugby Junction’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 1 April 2014. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.48.
Media move things, but media are also things that move. This paper focus on the mediating bodies of nineteenth-century print culture and the effects that they had on the human bodies they mediated. My focus throughout is on repetition, the characteristic movement of industrial print culture. Repetition puts into play a gothic pattern of return and my paper draws upon this tradition to account for repetition’s cultural effects. In a sort of repetition of my own, I will keep coming back to Mugby Junction, Dickens’s Christmas issue of All the Year Round from 1866. The frame narrative tells the story of Barbox Brothers, who haunts Mugby Junction as he does not know which line to take. I argue that Barbox’s decision to stay is similar to the way periodicals like Household Words and All the Year Round mediate through repetition. Just as Barbox Brothers moves on by becoming part of Mugby, so the Christmas number of All the Year Round becomes part of the archive, part of a space called the past, on the appearance of the January number. From the steam engine to the heart, my argument is that until we take repetition seriously we cannot understand the print culture of the past. (more…)