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Reginald Pecock's Books and Textual Communities
The Call to Read is the first full-length study to situate the surviving oeuvre of Reginald Pecock in the context of current scholarship on English vernacular theology of the late medieval period. Kirsty Campbell examines the important and innovative contribution Pecock made to late medieval debates about the roles of the Bible, the Church, the faculty of reason, and practices of devotion in fostering a vital, productive, and stable Christian community. Campbell argues that Pecock’s fascinating attempt to educate the laity is more than an effort to supply religious reading material: it is an attempt to establish and unite a community of readers around his books, to influence and thus change the ways they understand their faith, the world, and their place in it. The aim of Pecock’s educational project is to harness the power of texts to effect religious change. Combining traditional approaches with innovative thinking on moral philosophy, devotional exercises, and theological doctrine, Pecock’s works of religious instruction are his attempt to reform a Christian community threatened by heresy through reshaping meaningful Christian practices and forms of belief. Campbell’s book will be of interest to scholars and students of medieval literature and culture, especially those interested in fifteenth-century religious history and culture.
Thomas Rice uses the concept of cannibalism (what he calls "dismemberment, ingestion, and reprocessing") to describe Joyce's incorporation of so many literary and cultural allusions, both "high" and "popular." Beginning with examples of actual and symbolic cannibalism that fascinated Joyce--the Donner party, the Catholic Eucharist--Rice moves on to the ways Joyce appropriated language and elements of material culture into his work.
In Cannibal Joyce, Rice deftly offers a wide range of surprising connections and fascinating insights. A look at Berlitz's approach to teaching language leads to an examination of Joyce's aesthetic of disjunction in language. He compares Joyce and Joseph Conrad in light of the difficulties of modernism for readers through a startling and convincing discussion of the condom. And by focusing attention on colonial tales of cannibalism and Britain's treatment of the Irish, he provides a unique perspective on Joyce's politics.
A Critical Edition
Costello-Sullivan has compiled a student-friendly version of Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 vampire tale, “Carmilla.” This critical edition includes an introduction by the editor, a timeline, a short biographical sketch of the author, a selected bibliography, and four original, scholar-authored essays that explicate the novella for an undergraduate audience. This work situates “Carmilla” within its Irish cultural milieu and treats the text as self-standing rather than as a precursor to Dracula.
Although numerous critics and scholars have considered the influence of Joyce's Catholicism on his works, most seem to have concluded that Joyce's intention was to subvert the church's power. Mary Lowe-Evans argues, on the contrary, that the net result of Joyce's Catholic nostalgia is an entanglement in rather than a liberation from the labyrinthine ways of theological exposition and Catholic ritual and politics, which has inspired in his readers an enduring admiration for institutional Catholicism.
Lowe-Evans explores the ways in which specific Catholic rituals and devotions vigorously promoted by the Catholic Church during the "Crisis in Modernism" (1850-1960) caused a nostalgic reaction in Joyce that informs and permeates his work. She also traces the subtle and direct influence Joyce had on the Catholic thinking of a diverse group of subsequent writers. She demonstrates that Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald seem to effect this nostalgia in their work in spite of themselves, while Flannery O'Connor and Thomas Merton purposely elicit it. Lowe-Evans discusses Joyce's enduring belief in the immortal soul and the religious faith and doubt of Merton with great sensitivity, broadening the appeal of the study.
Lyric Poetry and Early Modern England
As a literary mode "lyric" is difficult to define precisely. While the term has conventionally been applied to brief, songlike poems expressing the speaker's interior thoughts critics have questioned many of the assumptions underlying this definition, calling into doubt the very possibility of self-expression in language. Whereas much recent scholarship on lyric has centered on the Romantic era, Heather Dubrow turns instead to the poetry of early modern England. The Challenges of Orpheus confronts widespread assumptions about lyric, exploring such topics as its relationship to its audiences, the impact of material conditions of production and other cultural pressures, lyric's negotiations of gender, and the interactions and tensions between lyric and narrative. Offering fresh perspectives on major texts of the period—from Wyatt's "My lute awake" to Milton's Nativity Ode—as well as poems by lesser-known figures, Dubrow extends her critical conclusions to poetry in other historical periods and to the relationship between creative writers and critics, recommending new directions for the study of lyric and of genre.
Victorian Literature and the Dilemmas of Philanthropy
How successful is Dickens in his portrayal of women? Dickens has been represented (along with William Blake and D.H. Lawrence) as one who championed the life of the emotions often associated with the "feminine." Yet some of his most important heroines are totally submissive and docile.
Dickens, of course, had to accept the conventions of his time. It is obvious, argues Holbrook, that Dickens idealized the father-daughter relationship, and indeed, any such relationship that was unsexual, like that of Tom Pinch and his sisterbut why? Why, for example, is the image of woman so often associated with death, as in Great Expectations? Dickens's own struggles over relationships with women have been documented, but much less has been said about the unconscious elements behind these problems.
Using recent developements in psychoanalytic object-relations theory, David Holbrook offers new insight into the way in which the novels of Dickensparticularly Bleak House, Little Dorrit, and Great Expectationsboth uphold emotional needs and at the same time represent the limits of his view of women and that of his time.
Poetry and the Problem of the Populace After 1381
Chaucer, Gower, and the Vernacular Rising examines the spread of Greco-Roman and European literature into English during late fourteenth- and early fifteenth-century, a time when literacy was burgeoning among men and women from the non-ruling classes. The dissemination of cultural authority inherent in this process offered the radically democratizing potential for accessing, interpreting, and deploying learned texts. Focusing primarily on an overlooked sector of Chaucer’s and Gower’s early readership, namely, the upper strata of non-ruling urban classes, Lynn Arner argues that Chaucer’s and Gower’s writings, in addition to being key conduits of literary riches into English, engaged in elaborate processes of constructing cultural expertise. These writings helped to define gradations of cultural authority, determining who could contribute to the production of legitimate knowledge and granting certain socioeconomic groups political leverage in the wake of the English Rising of 1381. Chaucer, Gower, and the Vernacular Rising shows how English poetry became a powerful participant in processes of social control.
Vol. 34, no. 3 (2000) through current issue
Founded in 1966, The Chaucer Review is the journal of Chaucerian research. The Chaucer Review publishes studies of language, sources, social and political contexts, aesthetics, and associated meanings of Chaucer's poetry, as well as articles on medieval literature, philosophy, theology, and mythography relevant to study of the poet and his contemporaries, predecessors, and audiences. It acts as a forum for the presentation and discussion of research and concepts about Chaucer and the literature of the Middle Ages.
The Nightmare Goodness of God
The literary giant G. K. Chesterton is often praised as the"Great Optimist"—God's rotund jester. In this fresh and daring endeavor, Ralph Wood turns a critical eye on Chesterton's corpus to reveal the beef-and-ale believer's darker vision of the world and those who live in it. During an age when the words grace, love, and gospel, sound more hackneyed than genuine, Wood argues for a recovery of Chesterton's primary contentions: First, that the incarnation of Jesus was necessary reveals a world full not of a righteous creation but of tragedy, terror, and nightmare, and second, that the problem of evil is only compounded by a Christianity that seeks progress, political control, and cultural triumph.
Wood’s sharp literary critique moves beyond formulaic or overly pious readings to show that, rather than fleeing from the ghoulish horrors of his time, Chesterton located God's mysterious goodness within the existence of evil. Chesterton seeks to reclaim the keen theological voice of this literary authority who wrestled often with the counterclaims of paganism. In doing so, it argues that Christians may have more to learn from the unbelieving world than is often supposed.