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Contested LiberalismsMartineau, Dickens and the Victorian Press$
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Iain Crawford

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474453134

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474453134.001.0001

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American Notes and the ‘frightful engine’ of the Press

American Notes and the ‘frightful engine’ of the Press

(p.95) Chapter 3 American Notes and the ‘frightful engine’ of the Press
Contested Liberalisms

Iain Crawford

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter Three examines Dickens’s American Notes. Interrogating John Drew’s sense that American Notes is largely concerned with ‘the invasive power of the press’ and Juliet John’s claim that it offers a ‘dystopian vision of mass culture’, this chapter and its successor position the American visit in the contexts of both Dickens’s ongoing efforts to find a role for himself in the press and his response to the widespread social unrest affecting Britain in the early 1840s. Showing how he arrived in the United States just as a newly established mass-market daily press was becoming ascendant on the East Coast, chapter 3 explores how American Notes responds to the phenomenon of new forms of urban literacy As with Martineau and chapter 2, this chapter also considers the critical reception of Dickens’s post-American books and the ways in which he in responded to that reception.

Keywords:   Dickens, America, The press, Urban literacy

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