Rayanne Eskandari Varzali


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Works at Department of Culture and Aesthetics
Telephone 08-16 26 93
Visiting address Frescativägen 26
Room 404
Postal address Institutionen för kultur och estetik 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I am a PhD Candidate in literature at Stockholm University, and my dissertation focuses on work, production, non-productive expenditure, and subjectivity in mid to late nineteenth-century British literature.



My project draws a cartography of productive subjects, more specifically productive working-class subjects, in relation to the various and ever-changing meanings of work in the nineteenth century. Moreover, the dissertation emphasises the willingness of certain nineteenth- century thinkers to engage with work as a matter of politics and with rest as the politicisation of inaction. It is an attempt to write a history of the present and to do a genealogical reading of the past, making the material relevant to our understanding of subjecthood, productivity, and work today. Therefore, the dissertation uses Thomas Carlyle, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Alfred Tennyson, William Morris, John Ruskin, and Oscar Wilde to examine how the financial development of the mid to late Victorian period led to a reconfiguration of the concepts of work, politics, productivity, and productive subjects – and how each thinker thought through and reconciled these concepts. The selected works serve as an entry point for a genealogy, in a Foucauldian sense, of the aforementioned notions. Relevant here is the concept of useful knowledge in relation to the working-class autodidact’s attempts to redefine education. It is that shift in the definition of useful knowledge and, by extension, work that results in the emergence of a new type of productive subject that lies at the heart of my dissertation.

Last updated: April 9, 2021

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