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The Victorian EyeA Political History of Light and Vision in Britain, 1800-1910$
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Chris Otter

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226640761

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226640785.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 July 2021

Introduction: Light, Vision, and Power

Introduction: Light, Vision, and Power

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction: Light, Vision, and Power
Source:
The Victorian Eye
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226640785.003.0001

This is a book about light, vision, and power in nineteenth-century Britain. It argues that the ways in which streets, houses, and institutions were lit, and the ways in which people saw within them, have a political history. The history of vision and power over the past couple of European centuries is invariably written as a history of either discipline or spectacle, or some combination of both. The book rejects such an approach. Instead, it argues that the nineteenth-century history of light and vision is best analyzed as part of the history of freedom, in its peculiarly and specifically British form. This introductory chapter discusses the following: the panopticon and the flâneur; the fundamental limitations to the development of illumination; liberalism; building and governing a technological state; and governing through technology. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.

Keywords:   nineteenth century, freedom, panopticon, flâneur, illumination, liberalism, technology

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