Stitches in the fabric of Victorian periodical poetry : the roles of "The song of the shirt" and "The sewing machine" in cultural and literary contexts : an honors thesis (HONRS 499)
Victorian periodical poems survive in many forms—as commodities, political statements, entertainment, and advertisements, to name a few—and often perform various functions at once. Both Thomas Hood's famous "The Song of the Shirt," and one of its parodies, an obscure advertisement for Finkle and Lyon sewing machines entitled "The Sewing Machine," create a framework for understanding how periodical poetry participates in a culture to perform multiple functions simultaneously. Exploring the similarities and dissimilarities between the audience, purpose, and classification of each poem, helps to reveal the complexities of the Victorian periodical poem. The first section of this thesis examines the role of each poem in a commodity culture. Then, a closer assessment of an audience immersed in this culture reveals the degree to which the poems participate in Victorian gender and class stereotypes. Finally, I explore the multiple functions of the poems as they interact with their audience through periodical media and the inevitable ambiguity of classifying such poems, ultimately raising questions about the survival of the poems.