Portrait of Professor Catherine Waters

Professor Catherine Waters

Professor of Victorian Literature and Print Culture
Chief Examiner

About

Cathy Waters (MA (Hons), DipEd Macquarie U, PhD USyd.) taught in Australia at the University of New England and the University of Sydney before coming to Kent in 2009. Her research interests are in Victorian literature and print culture, with a particular focus on the writing of Dickens, the journalism of George A Sala, and nineteenth-century periodicals and newspapers.
She has written Dickens and the Politics of the Family (Cambridge University Press 1997; rpt 2005) and Commodity Culture in Dickens’s Household Words: The Social Life of Goods (Ashgate 2008, winner of the 2009 Robert and Vineta Colby Prize by the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals). Special Correspondence and the Newspaper Press in Victorian Print Culture, 1850-1886, based upon research from her AHRC-funded project investigating of the writing of the Victorian ‘special correspondent’ – ‘Journalism on the move: the special correspondent and Victorian print culture’ – is forthcoming from Palgrave Macmillan in 2019. With Ruth Brimacombe, she has curated an online exhibition from this project, Picturing the News: The Art of Victorian Graphic Journalism

Supervision

Cathy would welcome research proposals in Victorian literature and culture, especially in the areas of fiction or journalism.

Professional

Catherine Waters is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Dickens Journals Online project and of Victorian Periodicals Review. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals.

Publications

Article

  • Waters, C. (2013). Sketches of the Metropolis: Pub-Crawling with George Augustus Sala in Household Words. Dickens Quarterly 30:26-42.
  • Waters, C. (2011). Materializing Mourning: Dickens, Funerals and Epitaphs. 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century [Online]:1-20. Available at: http://doi.org/10.16995/ntn.605.
    Dickens was fascinated with the material culture of the nineteenth century — with things, and the way in which they mediate feelings, relationships, and identities. While satirized as ‘Mr Popular Sentiment’ for some of his deathbed scenes, it is the material culture of mourning that most persistently engages his imagination. Alongside precious objects that attempt to bind the living and the dead in his fiction, we find other forms of commemoration which raise questions about the authenticity of the sentiments memorial objects are meant to express, questions that seem to have a particular urgency in the context of a rapidly developing commodity culture. This essay investigates some of the ways in which Dickens’s ambivalent attitude towards the material culture of mourning emerges in his writing.
  • Waters, C. (2009). ‘Much of Sala, and but Little of Russia’’A Journey Due North,’ Household Words, and the Birth of a Special Correspondent. Victorian Periodicals Review [Online] 42:305-323. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/vpr.0.0090.
    When Dickens sent George Augustus Sala as a special correspondent to Russia just after the end of the Crimean War, he launched him in what was to become his best-known role as a journalist. Comprising twenty-two articles which appeared in weekly instalments from 4 October 1856 to 14 March 1857, Sala's essays are of interest not only for their representation of one of the significant geographical and cultural "others" of the mid-Victorian imagination, but for their distinctive style, which is vibrant and polyglot, eschewing political analysis and statistical information in favour of the flâneur's "gastronomy of the eye" – the vivid metropolitan travel writing so popular with mid-nineteenth-century readers.
  • Waters, C. (2008). ’Fairy palaces’ and ’Wonderful Toys’: Machine Dreams in Household Words. Dickens Quarterly 25:215-231.

Book

  • Waters, C. (2019). Special Correspondence and the Newspaper Press in Victorian Print Culture, 1850–1886. [Online]. Palgrave Macmillan. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-03861-8.
  • Waters, C. (2008). Commodity Culture in Dickens’s "Household Words": The Social Life of Goods. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Group.
    In 1850, Charles Dickens founded - Household Words, a weekly miscellany intended to instruct and entertain an ever-widening middle-class readership. Published in the decade following the Great Exhibition of 1851, the journal appeared at a key moment in the emergence of commodity culture in Victorian England. Alongside the more well-known fiction that appeared in its pages, Dickens filled 'Household Words' with articles about various commodities-articles that raise wider questions about how far society should go in permitting people to buy and sell goods and services: in other words, how far the laissez-faire market should extend.At the same time, 'Household Words' was itself a commodity. With marketability clearly in view, Dickens required articles for his journal to be 'imaginative,' employing a style that critics ever since have too readily dismissed as mere mannerism. Locating the journal and its distinctive handling of non-fictional prose in relation to other contemporary periodicals and forms of print culture, this book demonstrates the role that 'Household Words' in particular, and the Victorian press more generally, played in responding to the developing world of commodities and their consumption at mid-century.

Book section

  • Waters, C. (2020). Victorian Investigative ’Slumming’. In: Tambling, J. ed. The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Urban Literary Studies: Living Edition. Palgrave Macmillan. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-62592-8_132-1.
  • Waters, C. (2020). Metropolitan Travel Writing. In: Tambling, J. ed. The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Urban Literary Studies: Living Edition. Palgrave Macmillan. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-62592-8_111-1.
  • Patten, R., Jordan, J. and Waters, C. (2018). Introduction. In: Patten, R. L., Jordan, J. O. and Waters, C. eds. The Oxford Handbook of Charles Dickens. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 1-5. Available at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-oxford-handbook-of-charles-dickens-9780198743415?cc=gb&lang=en&#.
  • Waters, C. (2017). Researching transnational/transatlantic connections: the 1865 Atlantic cable expedition. In: Easley, A., King, A. and Morton, J. eds. Researching the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Press: Case Studies. London: Routledge, pp. 102-114. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Researching-the-Nineteenth-Century-Periodical-Press-Case-Studies/Easley-King-Morton/p/book/9781315605616.
  • Waters, C. (2017). Doing the Graphic: Victorian Special Correspondence. In: Shattock, J. ed. Journalism and the Periodical Press in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 165-181. Available at: http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/literature/english-literature-1830-1900/journalism-and-periodical-press-nineteenth-century-britain?format=HB#TLA8KexjOmmVSDhH.97.
  • Waters, C. (2016). Dickens, ’first things’ and the rites of growing up. In: Kennedy, V. and Kitsi-Mitakou, K. eds. Liminal Dickens. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, pp. 1-14.
  • Merchant, P. and Waters, C. (2015). Introduction. In: Dickens and the Imagined Child. Aldershot: Ashgate Press, pp. 1-13.
  • Waters, C. (2014). ’Dickens’s "Young Men", "Household Words" and the Development of the Victorian "Special Correspondent"’. In: Kujawska-Lis, E. and Krawczyk-Laskarzewska, A. eds. Reflections on/Of Dickens. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 18-31. Available at: https://www.cambridgescholars.com/reflections-on-of-dickens.
  • Waters, C. (2013). The Household Words Journalist as Ethnographer: G. A. Sala’s ’Phases of ‘Public’ Life’. In: Mackenzie, H. and Winyard, B. eds. Charles Dickens and the Mid-Victorian Press, 1850-1870. University of Buckingham Press, pp. 1-10.
  • Waters, C. (2011). Domesticity. In: Ledger, S. and Furneaux, H. eds. Dickens in Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 350-357.
    Charles Dickens, a man so representative of his age as to have become considered synonymous with it, demands to be read in context. This book illuminates the worlds - social, political, economic and artistic - in which Dickens worked. Dickens's professional life encompassed work as a novelist, journalist, editor, public reader and passionate advocate of social reform. This volume offers a detailed treatment of Dickens in each of these roles, exploring the central features of Dickens's age, work and legacy, and uncovering sometimes surprising faces of the man and of the range of Dickens industries. Through 45 digestible short chapters written by a leading expert on each topic, a rounded picture emerges of Dickens's engagement with his time, the influence of his works and the ways he has been read, adapted and re-imagined from the nineteenth century to the present.

    - Aimed at students and researchers of Dickens and the Victorian period, with digestible, yet detailed and self-contained chapters
    - Combines scholarly authority with innovative new approaches
    - Provides a starting point for investigating any Dickens-related topic, with suggestions on how to develop the research
  • Waters, C. (2011). Gender Identities. In: Ledger, S. and Furneaux, H. eds. Dickens in Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 365-372.
  • Hollington, M. and Waters, C. (2010). Introduction. In: Imagining Italy: Victorian Writers and Travellers. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, pp. 1-12.
  • Waters, C. (2010). Commodifying Culture: Continental Travel and Tourism in Household Words. In: Imagining Italy: Victorian Writers and Travellers. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, pp. 35-52.
  • Johnston, J. and Waters, C. (2008). Introduction. In: Gay, P., Johnston, J. and Waters, C. eds. Victorian Turns, NeoVictorian Returns: Essays on Fiction and Culture. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, pp. 1-11.

Datasets / databases

  • Waters, C. and Dunstan, A. (2017). Victorian Specials Database: Journalism on the move. [web]. Available at: https://research.kent.ac.uk/victorianspecialsdatabase/#.

Edited book

  • Waters, C. (2018). The Oxford Handbook of Charles Dickens. [Online]. Patten, R. L., Jordan, J. O. and Waters, C. eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-oxford-handbook-of-charles-dickens-9780198743415?cc=gb&lang=en&#.
  • Waters, C. (2015). Dickens and the Imagined Child. Merchant, P. and Waters, C. eds. Aldershot: Ashgate Press.
    The figure of the child and the imaginative and emotional capacities associated with children have always been sites of lively contestation for readers and critics of Dickens. In Dickens and the Imagined Child, leading scholars explore the function of the child and childhood within Dickens’s imagination and reflect on the cultural resonance of his engagement with this topic. Part I of the collection examines the Dickensian child as both characteristic type and particular example, proposing a typology of the Dickensian child that is followed by discussions of specific children in Oliver Twist, Dombey and Son, and Bleak House. Part II focuses on the relationship between childhood and memory, by examining the various ways in which the child’s-eye view was reabsorbed into Dickens’s mature sensibility. The essays in Part III focus upon reading and writing as particularly significant aspects of childhood experience; from Dickens’s childhood reading of tales of adventure, they move to discussion of the child readers in his novels and finally to a consideration of his own early writings alongside those that his children contributed to the Gad’s Hill Gazette. The collection therefore builds a picture of the remembered experiences of childhood being realised anew, both by Dickens and through his inspiring example, in the imaginative creations that they came to inform. While the protagonist of David Copperfield-that 'favourite child' among Dickens’s novels-comes to think of his childhood self as something which he 'left behind upon the road of life', for Dickens himself, leafing continually through his own back pages, there can be no putting away of childish things.
  • Waters, C. (2010). Imagining Italy: Victorian Writers and Travellers. Waters, C., Hollington, M. and Jordan, J. eds. Newcastle Upon tyne: Cambridge Scholars.
    This book is a companion volume to Dickens and Italy, edited by Michael Hollington and Francesca Orestano, which aimed to fill an important gap in our understanding of England's paramount novelist by studying his personal, political and literary relation to the foreign country he loved best of all of those he visited. Its focus is wider and its scope more ambitious and speculative. Without in any way leaving Dickens or his writings about Italy behind, the attempt here is to approach the Victorian fascination with that country from a broader, more theoretical perspective in which several current debates about travel writing are taken up and critically redeployed. The book is articulated in three parts. Part One concerns what the writings of Dickens and other Victorians can tell us about the history and theory of travel and travel writing, and Part Two, what they can tell us about particular Victorian writers themselves and their work. In Part Three the focus shifts in order to compare writing and visual representations of the experience of 'abroad' in general and Italy in particular, in an era when what can be thought of as modern visual culture is gradually taking shape. The book aims to show that the study of how Victorians imagined Italy can lead to a deeper understanding of some of the stereotypes that continue to inform contemporary tourism.
  • Waters, C. (2008). Victorian Turns, NeoVictorian Returns: Essays on Fiction and Culture. Gay, P., Johnston, J. and Waters, C. eds. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars.
    Victorian Turns, NeoVictorian Returns: Essays on Fiction and Culture brings together essays by scholars of international reputation in nineteenth-century British literature. Encompassing new work on Victorian writers and subjects as well as later readings, rewritings, and adaptations, the two-part arrangement of this collection highlights an ongoing dialogue. Part One: Victorian Turns focuses principally on some of the major novelists of the period-George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte-while placing them in a wide cultural context, in particular that provided by the intellectual journals to which many of the novelists contributed. Reflecting the diversity of debate in the Victorian period, contributors' essays range across key topics of the day, including the "woman question", class relations, language, science, work, celebrity, and travel. English writers' consciousness of the challenging contemporary developments in French literature forms a significant and persistent theme. In Part Two: NeoVictorian Returns, the rich and varied afterlife of Victorianism is touched on. NeoVictorianism in contemporary literature and film demonstrates an ongoing and productive engagement with an age which established the social and cultural directions of the modern world. In rewritings, appropriations, and colonial writings-back, and in the persistent power of nineteenth-century images and stories in modern cinema, the period's social, cultural and political modernity continues to flourish.

Edited journal

  • Carney, B. and Waters, C. eds. (2012). Dickens and Feeling. 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century [Online]. Available at: http://www.19.bbk.ac.uk/82/volume/0/issue/14/.
    This issue, guest edited by Bethan Carney and Catherine Waters, re-examines the notorious Trollopian critique of Charles Dickens as ‘Mr Popular Sentiment’, investigating both the complex affective power of his writing and the strong and divided emotional responses it has elicited. As well as essays exploring fiction, journalism, letters, memoirs, portraits and a range of other forms of material culture, it includes a Forum on ‘Bicentennial Sentiment: Dickens and Feeling Now’. The contributions to this issue invite us to reconsider how we feel about Dickens and about Dickensian feeling 200 years after his birth.

Review

  • Waters, C. (2019). Book review: Women, periodicals, and print culture in Britain, 1830s–1900s Easley, A., Gill, C. and Rodgers, B. eds. Women’s Writing [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/09699082.2019.1686830.

Thesis

  • Fisher, D. (2016). Marriage and Paradoxical Christian Agency in the Novels of Mary Wollstonecraft, Jane Austen, Anne Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell.
    Between 1790 and 1850, the novel was used widely "for doing God's work," and English female authors, specifically those who identified themselves as Christians, were exploiting the novel's potential to challenge dominant discourse and middle-class gender ideology, particularly in relationship to marriage. I argue in this thesis that Mary Wollstonecraft, Jane Austen, Anne Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell used the novel to construct Christian heroines who, as unlikely agents, make resistive choices shown to be undergirded by faith.
    All practicing some form of Christianity, Wollstonecraft, Austen, Brontë and Gaskell engage evangelicalism's belief in "transformation of the heart." They construct heroines who are specifically shown to question the value of a narrative that assumes wayward husbands would somehow be transformed as a result of the marriage union. The heroines in this study come to resist such reforming schemes. Instead, they paradoxically leverage the very Christian faith that dominant discourse would use to subjugate them in unequal unions.

Visual media

  • Waters, C. and Brimacombe, R. (2017). Picturing the News: The Art of Victorian Graphic Journalism. [online]. Available at: https://research.kent.ac.uk/victorianspecials/.

Forthcoming

  • Waters, C. (2015). Special Correspondent. In: Brake, L. ed. Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism. Proquest.
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