Beastly encounters, human-animal relations in the illustrated police news and victorian literature and culture, 1864-1901

  • Louise Logan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis examines the sensational Victorian newspaper the Illustrated Police News and its representation of human-animal relations from its inception in 1864 to the end of the Victorian era in 1901. It proposes that this critically-overlooked paper can illuminate our understanding of contemporary attitudes towards animals, providing, as it does, a popular perspective not often discussed in academic studies. Drawing on scholarship from animal studies, urban studies, periodical studies and literary studies, this thesis suggests the significance of this newspaper's representation of animals and explores how this representation relates to contemporary anxieties surrounding, for example, urbanisation, criminality, degeneration, order and civility. The analysis is comprised of case studies, with each chapter examining the representation of human-animal relations in a different set of urban and rural spaces. The thesis moves from the private space of the home to public settings such as the street, the menagerie, the zoo and the courtroom, and finally to the controversial Victorian laboratory. In each case, the paper made important contributions to, for example, discussions of the legal status of animals, and conceptions of their potential agency and of their position in Victorian society. The paper's use of genre in its dissemination of ideas is also explored, and it is situated in its literary and cultural contexts through comparisons with other contemporary periodicals and with Victorian fiction, examining particularly its use of Gothic and sensational modes. The thesis thus contributes to scholarly work on the representation of animals in nineteenth-century periodicals, which until now has largely focused on titles produced and read by the social elite. Often viewed as only a low and lurid title, this thesis provides the first sustained critical study of the Illustrated Police News and argues that it is a valuable resource for the study of Victorian culture.
Date of Award3 Jun 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorErica Fudge (Supervisor) & Sarah Edwards (Supervisor)

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