This introductory chapter sets out the book's purpose, which is to tell the story of how vision became subjective, material, and, consequentially, modern, in nineteenth-century Britain, and how literary and artistic texts directed and made plain those changes. The history of vision's development is told through a study of China, a geographical location that also came to designate particular kinds of visual and aesthetic form, as well as a particularly antithetical kind of foreignness. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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