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The Path of Least Resistance: Mapping the 1832 Reform Act and Felix Holt

Delphine Gatehouse (King's College London)

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Published Date:

January 2020


Maps, George Eliot, 1832 Great Reform Act, Felix Holt, Representation, Realism


The 1832 Reform Act has been hailed as the best mapped piece of legislation of the century, and this from a country characterised by map historians as ‘leading the map-making world with the most prolific output and the most innovatory technology ever known in cartographic history’. This paper examines a cartographic corpus – of retrospective, interpretative maps – in relation to the riots and resistance associated with the passing of the Great Reform Act. By arguing that Eliot’s Felix Holt: The Radical (1866) contributes to such a corpus, thanks to its concern with ideas of discretisation and summation, its aerial insistence and its belatedness, the paper attempts to cartographically contextualise traditional critique of Felix Holt’s much-debated conservatism and engages with the problems of using an archive to animate resistance.

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54 - 72

Date of Publication:

January 2020

About the author

Delphine Gatehouse (King's College London)

Delphine is a PhD researcher at King’s College London, where she teaches critical theory in the Comparative Literature and English departments. She was a Research Assistant for MIT’s ‘Mapping Melville’ project – an open access collaboration between MIT’s HyperStudio, Mobile Experience Lab, Hofstra University’s Digital Research Center and the Melville Electronic Library, which enables public users to capture the multiple possibilities of literary journeys. She holds a first-class honours degree and masters from the University of Oxford, where she was awarded the Rosalind Bairstow Prize from St Hilda’s College for essays on the nineteenth century. Her work explores Victorian cartographic technologies alongside the British realist novel and is regularly written up for conference papers delivered across Europe.

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