Readers reply: why do People use the time period ‘Victorian’? | Queen Victoria

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By Stacy Connor


Why do People use the time period “Victorian”? Victoria got here to the British throne in 1837, greater than 60 years after the US declared independence. Tim Howell, Newquay

Ship new inquiries to nq@theguardian.com.

Readers reply

One reply is: they do they usually don’t. American historical past that occurred alongside the north Atlantic coast is often known as happening “in Victorian instances”, however any historical past that occurred west of the Rockies is often mentioned as “within the outdated west”. Relying on what time in Victoria’s reign is underneath dialogue, historical past occurring within the south-east is perhaps mentioned as “within the run-up to the civil struggle” or “throughout Reconstruction”.

After they do name American historical past Victorian, the reason being that People may need declared independence within the authorized sense, however on the time the British empire was nonetheless far and away crucial political entity within the English-speaking world. American literature, social mores, vogue, theatre, business, science and politics have been all deeply formed every day by what was occurring in London. Particularly in the course of the run of weak, corrupt presidents in the course of the Gilded Age, it was extra helpful and intuitive for People to check with what they considered the centre of civilisation. catseyemousehole

I recall being shocked to listen to San Francisco’s Painted Girls being described as Victorian. The explanation could also be that town wasn’t the outdated west, however settled partly by Europeans – not essentially British – who had arrived by ship quite than by wagon prepare throughout the continent. jno50

Typically talking, within the US, we use the time period Victorian for occasions, each historic and cultural, that occurred throughout her reign. Throughout that interval, there have been 18 US presidents, who have been in workplace for between six months and eight years, so one can hardly outline these timeframes as an period. Additionally, contemplating almost 1 / 4 of the inhabitants have been topics of the British empire at the moment, I think about that it turned a comparatively generally understood time period. Peridot

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As a result of it’s shorthand for the majority of the Nineteenth century, even in Europe. Victoria’s reign was so lengthy and noticed so many modifications – and never simply in Britain or the British colonies. She was additionally in all probability the final head of state to challenge a world picture for thus lengthy. Plus, Victorian is an architectural, vogue and creative type. AliHargreaves61

As a time period to explain the artwork and structure of an period, it’s a better umbrella time period than the huge vary of worldwide ornate types that have been in style throughout Victoria’s reign: all of the revival types comparable to pre-Raphaelite, neo-gothic, neo-Byzantine, Arts and Crafts and so on. Its different meanings – prudishness, hypocrisy, or a society the place huge poverty exists alongside excessive wealth – are sadly as related to sure quarters of American and British society at the moment as they have been within the Nineteenth century. appealforsanity

I don’t know that it’s used very a lot in any respect in lots of components of the US, however typically it’s in reference to a method of structure or design, presumably sure fashions. Definitely, within the north-east, there would on this period nonetheless be an excessive amount of direct commerce and interplay between Britain and the US, and numerous cross-pollination, so to talk, notably amongst wealthier households, by way of sending their grownup youngsters (sons, primarily) both east or west throughout the ditch for functions of schooling, apprenticeship and oversight of household companies, cementing of social connections. shangers

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Most People who use the adjective Victorian apply it to literature (particularly British literature), and accomplish that precisely to position it in time, or to an aesthetic paying homage to the time. The overwhelming majority of People by no means use the time period in any respect. There are a lot of causes for this. Probably the most palatable one: literature courses for American youngsters are (regardless of what chances are you’ll examine the authoritarian censorship horrors in Florida) more and more inclusive, with an effort to learn extra ladies, non-heterosexual, non-white writers. quiettess

Progressive/leftwing north-east American right here. I feel when it’s used – not fairly often, the place I’m from – the time period we’re trying to find is “puritan”. Quips like: “That’s so Victorian,” are very informal, fleeting and so vaguely check with a time that we assume was a lot much less progressive for ladies and brutal in some ways, for instance the methods illnesses and surgical procedures have been dealt with. barndotghost

We’ll speak about Victorian attitudes or morals in reference to American mores, but it surely’s usually a bit derogatory, as in a passion for protecting desk limbs with cloth. And refusing to acknowledge that tables and chairs have legs. AspasiasUli

We use Victorian to label a set of social mores that we consider have been distinguished within the British Empire in the course of the mid-Nineteenth century, and that “higher” American society emulated. It stands in distinction to modernity, the distinction captured by Cole Porter:

In olden days, a glimpse of stocking

Was regarded on as one thing surprising

However now, God is aware of

Something goes.”

1cjcarpenter



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