Literature and Languages
This article gives an account of Victorian media studies as a sub‐field that emerged primarily from investigations of nineteenth‐century communication technologies and the century's accompanying preoccupations with transmission and the idea of in‐betweenness. Owing to unprecedented developments such as the rise of the universal postal system, telegraphy, phonography, photography, and mass print media, historicist inquiries have proven fruitful for the sub‐field. At the same time, continuities between how Victorians (such as the journalist and editor W. T. Stead) imagined communication's unifying reach across Britain and the globe and twentieth‐century media theory's critique of this same reach have ensured the sub‐field's grounding in theoretical engagements. The second part of the article considers how alternative frameworks for understanding media beyond communication (such as immersion, virtuality, and media archaeology) are currently redefining Victorian media studies in the twenty‐first century, continuing the sub‐field's robust dialectical engagements of history and theory.