Document Type



This article examines some of the many scholarly approaches to the legacy of Victorian literary and political history, including the critical cultural studies angle that descends from the Victorian sages, neoconservative revivals of Victorian liberalism and the culture of “personal responsibility,” and postmodernist and steampunk re-imaginings. All these historicisms contain within themselves (it is argued) an implicit view of the present as well, either as morally degraded or playfully assembled. Recent arguments about “strategic presentism” put forward by the V21 Collective tend to construct the present (in the shadow of Trump) as something calling for urgent intervention—which is not the only possible construct of the present. The article finishes by suggesting that the concept of the “hinge point,” a contemporary date like 1989 or 2008 that organizes a significant critical discourse, can be one way of complicating the concept of a scholarly presentism.