Mudlarks and the Scale of Victorian Ecology

Spence, R. (2022) Mudlarks and the Scale of Victorian Ecology. Victorian Studies, 64 (2). pp. 187-213. ISSN 0042-5222

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Abstract

This essay focuses on a range of ethnographic accounts of mudlarks, communities of nineteenth-century scavengers who would scour the Thames foreshore for scraps to sell. I read the metonymic relationality between mudlarks and their littoral dwelling as an agitative mode of ecological economy, to claim that the mudlark’s littoral economy effectively elides the scalar domains of society, capital, and ecology during the period. The essay traces how the mudlark’s multiscalar blending carries over to ethnographers’ rhetorical strategies, which are inflected by the overlapping discourses of natural history, evolutionary theory, and ecology. Finally, I turn to how ethnographers record the mudlark as an amphibious figure, and gesture to how this perceived amphibiousness registers the mudlark as a temporally significant link between the nineteenth century and deep geological and evolutionary timescales.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Victorian Studies
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3300/3316
Subjects:
ID Code:
175976
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
23 Sep 2022 15:10
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
01 Dec 2022 04:05