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The Emergence of the Magic Lantern Trade in Nineteenth-Century England

Roberts, Phillip (2018) The Emergence of the Magic Lantern Trade in Nineteenth-Century England. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

The English magic lantern trade emerged over several decades after 1821, following the appearance of the Improved Phantasmagoria Lantern. This new lantern reframed the instrument as a must-have commodity and catapulted optical media towards a popular market. This moment laid the groundwork for a larger professional trade that thrived towards the end of the nineteenth century. Most lantern scholars leap over the decades at the beginning of the century, ignoring their importance as a period of experimentation. Even those few that do acknowledge the significance of the early media crazes fail to realise the social conflicts of these years. The machines that retailers were using to get rich had long been used by poor performers. The experimental retail practices relied on an infrastructure of working-class labourers. Another lantern culture was destroyed by the genesis of a professional trade. That we have so far failed to write these people into the story is a result of historical blindness in our own time and our reluctance to critique the survival of material and documentary evidence. This thesis critiques the accepted history of the English lantern trade. I explore the practices used by lantern makers of the early nineteenth century, focusing on Philip Carpenter, whose influence dominates lantern scholarship. Despite wide acceptance of his importance, little new knowledge on Carpenter has been produced in decades. I present a comprehensive analysis of his practice and its impact, showing that he was more typical of his era than others have thought, that his innovations were questionable, and that he was preceded by other, equally inventive, instrument makers. The emergence of the lantern trade was a product of intersecting economic, industrial, and cultural circumstances.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Related URLs:
Keywords: Magic Lantern, 19th century, media, entertainment, manufacturing, workshops, cinema, Birmingham, Phillip Carpenter, Phantasmagoria, Savoyard, itinerant entertainer, pedlar, performance, pre-cinema, optical toy, kaleidoscope, thaumatrope, phenakistiscope, phenakistascope,
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Depositing User: Dr Phillip Roberts
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2019 16:13
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2019 16:13
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22999

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