Jason R. Rudy, “Settled: Dorrit Down Under” (pp. 184–206) Although the conclusion to Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit (1855–57) finds the protagonists Arthur Clennam and Amy Dorrit comfortably situated in London, the novel’s long and meandering narrative entertains alternate possibilities. This essay considers the relation of emigration to British middle-class identity, both in the historical context of the 1850s and in the fictional world of Dickens’s novel. Australian free emigration, which saw a significant rise in the 1850s, serves as a limit case against which to test the significance of remaining at home in England. Little Dorrit is a novel that “settles” on a domestic life of bourgeois stability, but it arrives at this conclusion only after contemplating less-predictable futures abroad. Dickens himself considered emigrating to Australia while writing Little Dorrit , and the novel’s quiet conclusion reflects the author’s own conflicted resolution to forego life beyond British shores. Dickens’s novel ultimately suggests that Victorian middle-class stability depended at least in part on the rejection of economic possibilities abroad.
Jason R. Rudy, “Scottish Sounds in Colonial South Africa: Thomas Pringle, Dialect, and the Overhearing of Ballad” (pp. 197–214) This essay uses Scottish ballads to think through the ways poems circulated in nineteenth-century emigrant communities. Dialect was a significant feature of colonial poetry, capturing the particular sounds of localities: the borderlands of Scotland, for example. Given the long association between dialect and oral culture, dialect in the context of ballad poetry signaled an especially communal form of identification. Scottish dialect poems in emigrant communities had an especial power to invoke a communal consciousness, a sense of being together that arose from having come from the same place. I take the Scottish poet Thomas Pringle as an example of a larger phenomenon, tracing the revisions he made to ballad poems as he moved from Edinburgh to South Africa and then London.