Love Me, Love Me Not: Emotion and Identity in 19th-Century Valentines

featuring Dr. Alice Crossley

Wednesday, February 7

1:30 PM ET

Virtual Event | Free

Nineteenth-century valentines are typically recognized as pretty tokens of love and affection, prized for their intricate, decorative designs. The comic variant of the valentine, however, communicated very different sentiments indeed. Gaining popularity by the mid-1800s, and notable for their surprisingly malicious humor, comic valentines deployed strategies akin to 21st-century “trolling.” Rather than expressing fond regard, they were satirical, mocking, and rude, revealing the valentine’s subversive potential.

Love Me, Love Me Not explores sentimental valentines for their visual, tactile, and emotional properties, and in turn, the comic valentine’s function as a barometer of social cohesion and disavowal: less “I love you” than “I love you not.” Focusing on examples from the Library Company’s collection, this talk considers the role comic valentines played in negotiating identity politics, and in articulating prejudice through the guise of humor.

Please join us to learn about the sweet and salty sides of the valentine!

Dr. Alice Crossley is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Lincoln, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and Secretary of the British Association for Victorian Studies. She has published on valentines and is currently working on a book examining them through the lenses of material and visual cultures, affect/emotion, and identity construction. She also writes extensively on age and masculinity in Victorian literature, as well as edits journal special issues on aging, including Age, Culture, Humanities (2021) and Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies (2017). She is author of Male Adolescence in Victorian Fiction (Routledge 2018), and recent articles for Poetics Today, 19, and Yearbook of English Studies. Dr. Crossley’s work has been supported through fellowships from the Library Company of Philadelphia, the American Antiquarian Society, and Winterthur Garden, Museum & Library.

Closed captioning will be available. If you have any accessibility questions or need any assistence registering, please call 215-546-3181 x 144.

Sponsored by the Visual Culture Program


Feb 07 2024


1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

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The Library Company of Philadelphia
1300 Locust St., 1:15 pm – 2:15 pm


The Library Company of Philadelphia
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