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Palgrave Studies in Life Writing

Incognito Social Investigation in British Literature

Certainties in Degradation

Authors: Seaber, Luke

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  • Provides the first social history of incognito social investigation texts
    Examines a variety of texts from 1866 to the present day
    Is truly interdisciplinary, with relevance across literature, history and sociology

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eBook 71,39 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-50962-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover 88,39 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-50961-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
  • The final prices may differ from the prices shown due to specifics of VAT rules
Softcover 88,39 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-84532-6
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
  • The final prices may differ from the prices shown due to specifics of VAT rules
About this book

This book is the first full critical history of incognito social investigation texts – in other words, works detailing their authors’ experiences whilst pretending to be poor.  The most famous example is Down and Out in Paris and London, but there has been a vast array of other works in the genre since it was created in 1866 by James Greenwood’s ‘A Night in a Workhouse’.

It draws up a classification of incognito social investigation texts, dividing them into four subtypes. The first comprises those texts following most narrowly in James Greenwood’s footsteps, taking the extreme poor as their object of study. The next is the investigation of poverty through walking, for pedestrianism and poverty are fascinatingly linked.  The third is that of people looking at relative poverty rather than absolute, where authors take on badly-paid work in order to report on it, which is when incognito social investigation becomes very much something carried out by women.  We end looking at those incognito social investigators who settled in the areas they explored. 
Not only will this book recover the history of a genre that has long been ignored, however, but it will also offer significant close reading of many of the texts that it places within the tradition(s) it discovers.  

About the authors

Luke Seaber taught at various Italian universities before coming to University College London, where he now teaches, as a Marie Curie research fellow in 2012.

Reviews

“Incognito Social Investigation in British Literature illuminates Victorian periodical writing and its broader impact in provocative, unforgettable ways.” (Rebecca Nesvet, Victorian Periodicals Review, Vol. 51 (2), 2018)
 “This is a fascinating study that explores the genre of writings produced by ‘incognito social investigators’ from the 1860s to more recent times. … there is much of considerable interest in this volume. It deserves to be read, and for those with an interest in Orwell they will find his impact and legacy cropping up through the book.” (Nick Crowson, George Orwell Studies, Vol. 2 (1), 2017)
“Seaber’s study is a scholarly and accessible overview of a fascinating and oddly overlooked genre. As such, it offers a rare insight into to the cultural and literary context that helped shape one of Orwell’s most highly regarded works, in the process significantly expanding the scope of Orwell studies.” (Luke Davies, The Orwell Society, Issue 11, 2017)

“Through his engaged and accessible analysis of social investigation, Seaber casts new light on matters such as identity, performativity, authenticity, subjectivity, and the relationship between the observer and the observed. This excellent study deserves to become the standard work on the topic.” (Dr Nick Hubble, Reader in English, Brunel University London, UK)

“Luke Seaber’s book provides a much needed critical history of incognito social investigation, illuminating the methodology employed by the writers who went undercover, tracing major developments in the genre, and exploring its subcategories of casual wards, tramping, work, and settlement housing. With his incisive analysis and thorough contextualization of texts, Seaber offers an astute overview of the genre and fresh insights on individual works. This book is essential reading for a greater understanding of incognito social investigation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.” (Dr Laura Vorachek, Associate Professor at University of Dayton Ohio, USA)

Table of contents (8 chapters)

Table of contents (8 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook 71,39 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-50962-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover 88,39 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-50961-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
  • The final prices may differ from the prices shown due to specifics of VAT rules
Softcover 88,39 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-84532-6
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
  • The final prices may differ from the prices shown due to specifics of VAT rules
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Incognito Social Investigation in British Literature
Book Subtitle
Certainties in Degradation
Authors
Series Title
Palgrave Studies in Life Writing
Copyright
2017
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-50962-4
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-50962-4
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-50961-7
Softcover ISBN
978-3-319-84532-6
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
VIII, 274
Topics