Adam Mazel, “The Age of Rhyme: The Verse Culture of Victorian Cambridge” (pp. 374–401)
This essay introduces the verse culture of the Victorian-era University of Cambridge. While Cambridge verse covers a range of matters and manners, time is its master-theme and rhyme is its master-scheme. Seemingly sophomoric, Cambridge verse is significant as a case of verse doing social work for its writers and readers: versifying helped distinguish students and alumni as refined, cultivated members of the Victorian elite. In Cambridge verse, the social meanings of versifying condensed above all in the versifier’s facility with form, which implied the versifier’s refinement. For Cambridge men, rhyme play was a form of display, a performance of class.