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Response to Review of By Accident or Design: Writing the Victorian Metropolis

I am pleased with Anna Feintuck's review and have little to add, save special thanks for her response to the book's interdisciplinary ambitions. Writing from within an English department, it is sometimes challenging to be sure of one's reach, and thus gratifying to be noticed in a history journal. The field of Victorian studies was premised on such interdisciplinarity, taking many of its cues from the pre- or proto-disciplinary ferment which characterized the 19th century. Of course, Feintuck clearly spots the thresholds of different intellectual domains within the book – such as her points about the balance of case studies and close readings, and about the justifiable need for investigations of localities within a metropolitan concept – at the same time as she confirms (for me, at least) the value of historicist literary scholarship for a broader audience. Feintuck also repeatedly mentions the book's ‘critical self-awareness’. That, I might hazard, reflects the present condition of Victorian studies with respect to historicism and interdisciplinarity, manifestly in debate amid recent discussions about the field's future. Feintuck's review gives me courage to hope that such a historicism, alert to its limits as well as to critical opportunities, might help our interdisciplinary conversations continue to flourish.