Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-54jdg Total loading time: 1.798 Render date: 2022-08-10T09:11:56.371Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

IS THERE A PASTOR IN THE HOUSE?: SANITARY REFORM, PROFESSIONALISM, AND PHILANTHROPY IN DICKENS'S MID-CENTURY FICTION

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 October 2003

Lauren M. E. Goodlad
Affiliation:
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Extract

CHARLES DICKENS'S INTERESTS in legal and administrative reform are as apparent to readers as the famous depictions of Chancery and the Circumlocution Office in, respectively, Bleak House (1852–53) and Little Dorrit (1855–57). Dickens's equally profound engagement with sanitary reform is less obvious. In this essay I argue that the modern social consciousness engendered by the public health movement – including Edwin Chadwick's groundbreaking Sanitary Idea – is important to understanding Bleak House as well as underlying and more general questions of “pastoral” agency in a self-consciously liberal society.The notion of “pastorship” as the means by which a society governs its citizens, both inside and out of formal state mechanisms, is developed in Foucault's late thinking on “governmentality,” especially in “Subject,” “Governmentality,” and “Space.” Although Foucault never completed a revised model as such, these essays clearly aim to provide alternatives to the panoptical paradigm of Discipline and Punish. In my forthcoming book, Victorian Literature and the Victorian State, I argue that governmentality describes Victorian Britain's self-consciously liberal society better than does the more influential panoptical model. Nevertheless, the present discussion does not profess to offer an orthodox Foucauldian reading of any kind. Explaining these convergences takes us to the very heart of the novel's frustrated desire for order, authority, and individual purpose while, at the same time, providing a useful vantage on contemporaneous social reforms. Dickens's 1851 preface to Oliver Twist elucidates the extent to which the author had been influenced by the sanitary movement's comprehensive environmentalist logic. Sanitary reform, he insists, must “precede all other Social Reforms,” preparing for “Education” and “even for Religion” (qtd. in Butt and Tillotson 190–91). Here sanitary reform is an unquestionable priority, crucial to the moral and physical wellbeing of the nation's social body. Seemingly impervious to entrenched divides between laissez faire and interventionist politics, Dickens appears to make a strong statement on behalf of state pastorship. But it would be a mistake to infer from such remarks that Dickens had become a staunch proponent of the state's duty not only (negatively) to prevent wrong, but also (positively) to intervene in the lives of individuals and communities.

Type
WORKS IN PROGRESS
Copyright
© 2003 Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

IS THERE A PASTOR IN THE HOUSE?: SANITARY REFORM, PROFESSIONALISM, AND PHILANTHROPY IN DICKENS'S MID-CENTURY FICTION
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

IS THERE A PASTOR IN THE HOUSE?: SANITARY REFORM, PROFESSIONALISM, AND PHILANTHROPY IN DICKENS'S MID-CENTURY FICTION
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

IS THERE A PASTOR IN THE HOUSE?: SANITARY REFORM, PROFESSIONALISM, AND PHILANTHROPY IN DICKENS'S MID-CENTURY FICTION
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *