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Literature > English Literature

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The Call to Read Cover

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The Call to Read

Reginald Pecock's Books and Textual Communities

Kirsty Campbell

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.

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Cannibal Joyce

Thomas Jackson Rice

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.

Carmilla Cover

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Carmilla

A Critical Edition

by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

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.

Catholic Nostalgia in Joyce and Company Cover

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Catholic Nostalgia in Joyce and Company

Mary Lowe-Evans

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.

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The Challenges of Orpheus

Lyric Poetry and Early Modern England

Heather Dubrow

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.

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Chaos and Cosmos

Literary Roots of Modern Ecology in the British Nineteenth Century

By Heidi C. M. Scott

In Chaos and the Microcosm, Heidi Scott integrates literary readings with contemporary ecological methods to investigate two essential and contrasting paradigms of nature that scientific ecology continues to debate: chaos and balance. Ecological literature of the Romantic and Victorian eras uses environmental chaos and the figure of the balanced microcosm as tropes essential to understanding natural patterns, and these eras were the first to reflect upon the ecological degradations of the Industrial Revolution. Chaos and the Microcosm contends that the seed of imagination that would enable a scientist to study a lake as a microcosmic world at the formal, empirical level was sown by Romantic and Victorian poets who consciously drew a sphere around their perceptions in order to make sense of spots of time and place amid the globalizing modern world. This study’s interest goes beyond likening literary tropes to scientific aesthetics; it aims to theorize the interdisciplinary history of the concepts that underlie our scientific understanding of modern nature. Paradigmatic ecological ideas like ecosystems, succession dynamics, punctuated equilibrium, and climate change are shown to have a literary foundation that preceded their status as theories in science. This book is an elevation of the prospects of ecocriticism towards fully developed interdisciplinary potentials of literary ecology.

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Charity and Condescension

Victorian Literature and the Dilemmas of Philanthropy

Daniel Siegel

Charity and Condescension explores how condescension, a traditional English virtue, went sour in the nineteenth century, and considers the ways in which the failure of condescension influenced Victorian efforts to reform philanthropy and to construct new narrative models of social conciliation. In the literary work of authors like Dickens, Eliot, and Tennyson, and in the writing of reformers like Octavia Hill and Samuel Barnett, condescension—once a sign of the power and value of charity—became an emblem of charity’s limitations.

Charity and Condescension argues that, despite its reputation for idealistic self-assurance, Victorian charity frequently doubted its own operations and was driven by creative self-critique. Through sophisticated and original close readings of important Victorian texts, Siegel shows how these important ideas developed even as England struggled to deal with its growing underclass and an expanding notion of the state’s responsibility to its poor.

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Charles Dickens and the Image of Women

David Holbrook

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 sister—but 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 Dickens—particularly Bleak House, Little Dorrit, and Great Expectations—both uphold emotional needs and at the same time represent the limits of his view of women and that of his time.

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The Chartist Imaginary

Literary Form in Working-Class Political Theory and Practice

Can imaginative literature change the political and social history of a class or nation? In The Chartist Imaginary: Literary Form in Working-Class Political Theory and Practice, Margaret Loose turns to the Chartist Movement—Britain’s first mass working-class movement, dating from the 1830s to the 1840s—and argues that, based on literature by members of the movement, the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” Chartist writing awakened workers’ awareness of discord between professed ideals and reality; exercised their conceptual powers (literary and social); and sharpened their appetite for more knowledge, intellectual power, dignity, and agency in the present to fashion a utopian future. Igniting such self-respecting, politically transfigurative energy was a unique kind of agency Loose calls “the Chartist imaginary.” In examining the Chartist movement, Loose balances the nervous projections of canonical Victorian writers against a consideration of the ways that laborers represented Chartism’s aims and tactics. The Chartist Imaginary offers close readings of poems and fiction by Chartist figures from Ernest Jones and Thomas Cooper to W. J. Linton, Thomas Martin Wheeler, and Gerald Massey. It also draws on extensive archival research to examine, for the first time, working-class female Chartist poets Mary Hutton, E. L. E., and Elizabeth La Mont. Focusing on the literary form of these works, Loose strongly argues for the political power of the aesthetic in working-class literature.

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A Chastened Communion

Modern Irish Poetry and Catholicism

by Andrew J. Auge

A Chastened Communion traces a new path through the well-traversed field of modern Irish poetry by revealing how critical engagement with Catholicism shapes the trajectory of the poetic careers of Austin Clarke, Patrick Kavanagh, John Montague, Seamus Heaney, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Paul Durcan, and Paula Meehan.

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