Alison Byerly is the author of two books, Are We There Yet? Virtual Travel and Victorian Realism, published in 2012 by the University of Michigan Press, and Realism, Representation, and the Arts in Nineteenth-Century Literature, published by Cambridge University Press in 1997 and reissued in paperback in 2006.
Are We There Yet?: Virtual Travel and Victorian Realism connects the Victorian fascination with “virtual travel” with the rise of realism in 19th-century fiction and 21st-century experiments in virtual reality. Even as the expansion of river and railway networks in the 19th century made travel easier than ever before, staying at home and fantasizing about travel turned into a favorite pastime. New ways of representing place—360-degree panoramas, foldout river maps, exhaustive railway guides—offered themselves as substitutes for actual travel. Thinking of these representations as a form of “virtual travel” reveals a surprising continuity between the Victorian fascination with imaginative dislocation and 21st-century efforts to use digital technology to expand the physical boundaries of the self.
“Railway carriages are likened to chat rooms, balloonists encounter a ‘SimCity’ view of the metropolis, and the associative yet disconnected episodes of Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat resemble ‘links in a blog.’… Byerly’s wide-ranging and strenuously researched survey.. stakes out an intriguing basis from which to analyze the ‘indeterminacy’ inherent in the realist project.” —Times Literary Supplement
“Byerly’s study is ambitious, original, and insightful…and it is testament to its stimulating thesis and rich cultural and historical scope that it deserves to be taken up, elaborated, and questioned by scholars from within nineteenth-century literary studies and well beyond.” — Nineteenth-Century Literature
“Are We There Yet? helps us to imagine some of the destinations we could reach by aligning old literary problems with new contexts as well as with our own new media forms.” — Studies in the Novel
Realism, Representation, and the Arts in Nineteenth-Century Literature examines the representation of a variety of arts–primarily painting, theater, and music–within the work of major nineteenth-century novelists. It charts a historical progression, from Romantic poetry, through mid-century Realism, to Aestheticism, showing how authors used references to other forms of art to illuminate their own aesthetic ideals. Examining the aesthetic theory and cultural practice of different arts, Byerly demonstrates the importance of artistic representation to the development of Victorian Realism.
“Alison Byerly’s rich, stimulating, wide-ranging, and admirably compact new book raises a provocative set of questions.” Australasian Victorian Studies Journal
“… a persuasive, thoroughly readable, and well-constructed book.” Jennifer Green-Lewis, Victorian Studies
Selected Articles and Presentations
“Virtuality and Presence: Victorian Media and the Attenuation of the Self.” Invited lecture, Oxford University, January 2015.
“Are We There Yet?” Invited lecture in conjunction with Gibson/Martelli’s virtual reality exhibition ‘80° N’, QUAD Gallery, Derby, January 2015.
“Technologies of Travel in the Victorian Novel,” Oxford Handbook of the Victorian Novel, ed. Lisa Rodensky (Oxford University Press, 2013).
“’A Prodigious Map Beneath His Feet’: Virtual Travel and the Panoramic Perspective,” Nineteenth-Century Contexts Vol. 29, Numbers 2-3 (June/September 2007): 151-69. www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08905490701584643
“Rivers, Journeys, and the Construction of Place in Nineteenth-Century English Literature,” in Steven Rosendale, ed., The Greening of Literary Scholarship: Literature, Theory, and the Environment. (Iowa University Press, 2002): 77-94.
“Effortless Art: The Sketch in Nineteenth-Century Painting and Literature,” Criticism 41, 3 (Summer 1999): 349-64. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23124216
“The Uses of Landscape: The Picturesque Aesthetic and the National Park System,” in The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology, ed. Harold Fromm and Cheryll Glotfelty. (University of Georgia Press, 1996). http://goo.gl/CgJSV