This gallery showcases the capstone projects completed by Ryerson University students in English 810: Advanced English Research Methods, in Fall 2017 and Winter 2018 under the instruction of Alison Hedley. For their final project, students synthesized archival research and secondary scholarship to develop original analyses of short stories, poetry, and non-fiction in two avant-garde periodicals of the 1890s: the Yellow Book (1894-1897) and the Evergreen: A Northern Seasonal (1895-1897). Students worked with hard copies of these magazines in the Ryerson Library Archives and Special Collections and with digital editions on The Yellow Nineties Online. Focusing on one cultural concern or issue in 1890s Britain, each student curated a primary text in its moment of production and reception, evaluating the work’s participation in 1890s culture and explaining how this engagement contributes to our understanding of the magazine in which the work was published.
The pages of the Yellow Book and the Evergreen reveal diverse engagements with 1890s culture; contributors to both magazines simultaneously celebrated and critiqued modern British life. Students’ findings disclosed a preoccupation with authenticity, broadly construed, that pervaded the cultural commentary in many of the works in these magazines. In the Yellow Book, authorial notions of authenticity often involved discarding Victorian social and aesthetic norms in order to embrace the sensibilities of movements such as New Woman fiction, aestheticism and decadence, and naturalism. In the fiction of the Evergreen, authenticity often involved combining modern scientific perspectives with pre-Victorian artistic, spiritual, and cultural values through literary forms such as folktales and carols. However, as showcased by this exhibition’s range of topics and arguments, each magazine volume contains a diverse and, at times, contradictory spectrum of cultural attitudes and artistic efforts. Put in conversation with one another, the texts curated here seem to alternate between echoing one another in agreement; asserting conflicting points of view; and simply talking past one another.
Despite the polyphony, one idea persists under the surface of these exhibitions: contributors to both the Yellow Book and the Evergreen were preoccupied with the idea that modern cultural life in Britain was insincere, hypocritical, deracinated, and—worst of all—stifling to individuality and creativity. As English 810 students found, many of the short stories, poems, and essays refuse to offer a satisfying ending or a concrete solution to address this problem. However, we can view this ambivalence itself as a response to 1890s culture. While modern life is flawed, these magazines seem to suggest, its many uncertainties create space for exciting possibilities. It was with art and literature that contributors to the Yellow Book and the Evergreen sought to populate that space.
The exhibits are grouped by magazine and volume. Within each volume section, exhibits are listed alphabetically by author. To browse the exhibits, you may use the use the title and author list, enter a keyword into the search bar, or explore by category or tag. We hope you enjoy our exhibition.
Each author’s Digital Exhibit is protected by a Creative Commons License 4.0.
Images in this online exhibition are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.
Thank you to the staff at Ryerson University Library and Archives, especially Val Lem, Alison Skyrme, and Curtis Sassur, and to the Centre for Digital Humanities, especially Reginald Beatty, for their support of this research.
The Yellow Book
The Taboo World of Infidelity and “The Haseltons”
Aestheticism and Decadence in “Tirala-tirala…” by Henry Harland
The Gothic Interpretations of the Domestic Space
The New Woman in Ada Radford’s “Lot 99″
Childhood Development in The Yellow Book, Volume 11
Defending Cosmetics and Decadence in “The Happy Hypocrite”
Women Exploring Their Autonomy Through Vocational Work and The Yellow Book
The Evergreen: A Northern Seasonal
Call of the Wild