Emily McArthur

B.A. in English and History, Southern Adventist University, 2006
M.A. in English, University of California, Riverside, 2011


Joseph Childers (Chair), Susan Zieger, George Haggerty

Research Areas:

Sentiment, Victorian Childhood, Political Economy, Working-class Reading and Writing, Popular Periodicals

Research Interests:

I am currently working on a dissertation tentatively entitled “Sentiment in the Marketplace: British Childhood and Public Life, 1800-1870.” This work examines representations of children at the intersection of two discourses—the sentimental and the economic—in order to show their complicity. While these discourses appear at times to be in competition, in fact they rely heavily on each other, with the economic vision of childhood often propped up by the sentimental and visa versa. Along these lines, I contend that the sentimentalized child relies on bourgeois class assumptions and can only exist because of market forces. At the same time, the economic child must also incorporate some aspects of sentiment in order to be palatable to the reading public. If sentimental discourse relies on class assumptions in order to communicate its pathos, then economic discourse relies on sentiment in order to convey its message to a broader audience than the one that could be addressed through the discipline of political economy alone. Finally, I argue that both the sentimentalized child and the economic child incorporate aspects of the other because they are in fact part of the same overarching ideology: that of nineteenth century liberalism. To demonstrate these points, I examine at a variety of texts—including novels, working-class poetry, boys’ magazines, and writings on education reform—in order to investigate the ways in which the sentimentalized child can come to represent homo economicus and the liberal subject in nineteenth-century Britain while also calling those very categories into question.

Recent Activity:


“The iPhone Erfahrung: Siri, the Auditory Unconscious, and Walter Benjamin’s “Aura.” PAMLA Conference. Seattle University, Seattle, WA. 21 October 2012.

“‘Wonders of Science’ and ‘Blessings of Progress:’ The Columbian Exposition and the Consolidation of American Identity in Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day.” RMMLA Conference. University of Colorado, Boulder. 12 October 2012.

“‘Making it One’s Own’: Rhetoric of Self-Interest at the Opening of the Manchester Free Library.” British Association for Victorian Studies Conference. University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. 31 August 2012.

“A Poor Future: Class and Reproduction in Dickens, Edelman, and Malthus.” PAMLA Conference. Scripps College, Claremont, CA. 5 November 2011.

Professional Service:

Conference Treasurer: (dis)junctions Conference, University of California, Riverside, 2012

Panel Moderator: “From Hollywood to Occupy.” (dis)junctions Conference, University of California, Riverside. 13 April 2012.

Set-up and Clean-up Committee: (dis)junctions Conference, University of California, Riverside, 2010