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Vol. 60, no. 4 (1993) through current issue
Since 1934, ELH has published superior studies that interpret the conditions affecting major works in English and American literature. The importance of historical continuity in the discipline of letters remains a central concern for ELH but the journal does not seek to sponsor particular methods or aims. ELH has consistently maintained its high standards, publishing articles with an intelligent mix of historical, critical, and theoretical concerns.
Elizabeth Singer Rowe and the Development of the English Novel is the first in-depth study of Rowe’s prose fiction. A four-volume collection of her work was a bestseller for a hundred years after its publication, but today Rowe is a largely unrecognized figure in the history of the novel. Although her poetry was appreciated by poets such as Alexander Pope for its metrical craftsmanship, beauty, and imagery, by the time of her death in 1737 she was better known for her fiction. According to Paula R. Backscheider, Rowe's major focus in her novels was on creating characters who were seeking a harmonious, contented life, often in the face of considerable social pressure. This quest would become the plotline in a large number of works in the second half of the eighteenth century, and it continues to be a major theme today in novels by women. Backscheider relates Rowe’s work to popular fiction written by earlier writers as well as by her contemporaries. Rowe had a lasting influence on major movements, including the politeness (or gentility) movement, the reading revolution, and the Bluestocking society. The author reveals new information about each of these movements, and Elizabeth Singer Rowe emerges as an important innovator. Her influence resulted in new types of novel writing, philosophies, and lifestyles for women. Backscheider looks to archival materials, literary analysis, biographical evidence, and a configuration of cultural and feminist theories to prove her groundbreaking argument.
Female Spiritualities, Contested Orthodoxies, and English Religious Cultures, 1350-1700
In The Embodied Word: Female Spiritualities, Contested Orthodoxies, and English Religious Cultures, 1350–1700, Nancy Bradley Warren expands on the topic of female spirituality, first explored in her book Women of God and Arms, to encompass broad issues of religion, gender, and historical periodization. Through her analyses of the variety of ways in which medieval spirituality was deliberately and actively carried forward to the early modern period, Warren underscores both continuities and revisions that challenge conventional distinctions between medieval and early modern culture. The early modern writings of Julian of Norwich are an illustrative starting point for Warren’s challenge to established views of English religious cultures. In a single chapter, Warren follows the textual and devotional practices of Julian as they influence two English Benedictine nuns in exile, and then Grace Mildmay, a seventeenth-century Protestant gentry woman, “to shed light on the ways in which individual encounters of the divine, especially gendered bodily encounters expressed textually, signify for others both personally and socio-historically.” In subsequent chapters, Warren discusses St. Birgitta of Sweden’s imitatio Christi in the context of the importance of Spain and Spanish women in shaping a distinctive form of early modern Englishness strongly aligned with medieval religious culture; juxtaposes the fifteenth-century mystic Margery Kempe with the life and writings of Anna Trapnel, a seventeenth-century Baptist; and treats Catherine of Siena together with the Protestant Anne Askew and Lollard and Recusant women. In the final chapters she focuses on the interplay of gender and textuality in women’s textual representations of themselves and in works written by men who used the traditions of female spirituality in the service of competing orthodoxies.
Representations of Consciousness in Narrative Discourse in English
From Chaucer’s Pardoner to Eliot’s Edward Casaubon, from Behn’s Oroonoko to Woolf’s Clarissa Dalloway—the multifarious perceptions, inferences, memories, attitudes, and emotions of such characters are in some cases as vividly familiar to us readers as those of the living, breathing individuals we know from our own day-to-day experiences in the world at large. Equally diverse are the investigative frameworks that have been developed to study such fictional minds, their operations and qualities, and the narrative means used to portray them. The Emergence of Mind provides new perspectives on the strategies used to represent minds in stories and suggests the variety of analytic approaches that illuminate those strategies. In this interdisciplinary and groundbreaking collection of essays, distinguished scholars such as Monika Fludernik, Alan Palmer, and Lisa Zunshine examine trends in the representation of consciousness in English-language narrative discourse from 700 to the present. Tracing commonalities and differences in the portrayal of fictional minds over virtually the entire time span during which narrative discourse in English has been written and read, The Emergence of Mind will have a lasting impact on literary studies, narratology, and other fields.
One of the messages that Emily Dickinson wanted to communicate to the world was her great love of William Shakespeare—her letters abound with references to him and his works. This book explores the many implications of her admiration for the Bard. Páraic Finnerty clarifies the essential role that Shakespeare had in Dickinson’s life by locating her allusions to his writings within a nineteenth-century American context and by treating reading as a practice that is shaped, to a large extent, by culture. In the process, he throws new light on Shakespeare’s multifaceted presence in Dickinson’s world: in education, theater, newspapers, public lectures, reading clubs, and literary periodicals. Through analysis of letters, journals, diaries, records, periodicals, newspapers, and marginalia, Finnerty juxtaposes Dickinson’s engagement with Shakespeare with the responses of her contemporaries. Her Shakespeare emerges as an immoral dramatist and highly moral poet; a highbrow symbol of class and cultivation and a lowbrow popular entertainer; an impetus behind the emerging American theater criticism and an English author threatening American creativity; a writer culturally approved for women and yet one whose authority women often appropriated to critique their culture. Such a context allows the explication of Dickinson’s specific references to Shakespeare and further conjecture about how she most likely read him. Finnerty also examines those of Dickinson’s responses to Shakespeare that deviated from what might have been expected and approved of by her culture. Imaginatively departing from the commonplace, Dickinson chose to admire three of Shakespeare’s most powerful and transgressive female characters—Cleopatra, Queen Margaret, and Lady Macbeth—instead of his more worthy and virtuous heroines. More startling, although the poet found resonance for her own life in Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth, she chose, in the racially charged atmosphere of nineteenth-century America, to identify with Shakespeare’s most controversial character, Othello, thereby defying expectations once again.
Though they were born a generation apart, Joseph Conrad and James Joyce shared similar life experiences and similar literary preoccupations. Both left their home countries at a relatively young age and remained lifelong expatriates.
Empire and Pilgrimage in Conrad and Joyce offers a fresh look at these two modernist writers, revealing how their rejection of organized religion and the colonial presence in their native countries allowed them to destabilize traditional notions of power, colonialism, and individual freedom in their texts. Throughout, Agata Szczeszak-Brewer ably demonstrates the ways in which these authors grapple with the same issues--the grand narrative, paralysis, hegemonic practices, the individual's pilgrimage toward unencumbered self-definition--within the rigid bounds of imperial ideologies and myths. The result is an engaging and enlightening investigation of the writings of Conrad and Joyce and of the larger literary movement to which they belonged.
Postcolonial Irish Writing and the Politics of Modern Literary Form
Shedding new light on the rich intellectual and political milieus shaping the divergent legacies of Joyce and Yeats, Empire’s Wake traces how a distinct postcolonial modernism emerges within Irish literature in the late 1920s to contest and extend key aspects of modernist thought and aesthetic innovation at the very moment that the high modernist literary canon is consolidating its influence and prestige.By framing its explorations of postcolonial narrative form against the backdrop of distinct historical moments from the Irish Free State to the Celtic Tiger era, the book charts the different phases of twentieth-century postcoloniality in ways that clarify how the comparatively early emergence of the postcolonial in Ireland illuminates the formal shifts accompanying the transition from an age of empire to one of globalization.Bringing together new perspectives on Beckett and Joyce with analyses of the critically neglected works of Sean O’Faoláin, Frank McCourt, and the Blasket autobiographers, Empire’s Wake challenges the notion of a singular “global modernism” and argues for the importance of critically integrating the local and the international dimensions of modernist aesthetics.
Locke, Wordsworth, Kant, Freud
In the prevailing account of English empiricism, Locke conceived of self-understanding as a matter of mere observation, bound closely to the laws of physical perception. English Romantic poets and German critical philosophers challenged Locke's conception, arguing that it failed to account adequately for the power of thought to turn upon itself—to detach itself from the laws of the physical world. Cathy Caruth reinterprets questions at the heart of empiricism by treating Locke's text not simply as philosophical doctrine but also as a narrative in which "experience" plays an unexpected and uncanny role. Rediscovering traces and transformations of this narrative in Wordsworth, Kant, and Freud, Caruth argues that these authors must not be read only as rejecting or overcoming empirical doctrine but also as reencountering in their own narratives the complex and difficult relation between language and experience. Beginning her inquiry with the moment of empirical self-reflection in Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding—when a mad mother mourns her dead child—Caruth asks what it means that empiricism represents itself as an act of mourning and explores why scenes of mourning reappear in later texts such as Wordsworth's Prelude, Kant's Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science and Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, and Freud's Civilization. From these readings Caruth traces a recurring narrative of radical loss and the continual displacement of the object or the agent of loss. In Locke it is the mother who mourns her dead child, while in Wordsworth it is the child who mourns the dead mother. In Kant the father murders the son, while in Freud the sons murder the father. As she traces this pattern, Caruth shows that the conceptual claims of each text to move beyond empiricism are implicit claims to move beyond reference. Yet the narrative of death in each text, she argues, leaves a referential residue that cannot be reclaimed by empirical or conceptual logic. Caruth thus reveals, in each of these authors, a tension between the abstraction of a conceptual language freed from reference and the compelling referential resistance of particular stories to abstraction.
Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, Mary Shelley
Life and literature were inseparable in the daily lives of Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, and Mary Shelley. In England's First Family of Writers, Julie A. Carlson demonstrates how and why the works of these individuals can best be understood within the context of the family unit in which they were created. The first to consider their writing collectively, Carlson finds in the Wollstonecraft-Godwin-Shelley dynasty a family of writers whose works are in intimate dialogue with each other. For them, literature made love and produced children, as well as mourned, memorialized, and reanimated the dead. Construing the ways in which this family's works minimize the differences between books and persons, writing and living, Carlson offers a nonsentimental account of the extent to which books can live and inform life and death. Carlson also examines the unorthodox clan's status as England's first family of writers. She explores how, over time, their reception has evinced ongoing public resistance to those who critique family values.
Vol. 1 (1957) through current issue
ELT publishes articles on fiction, poetry, drama, or subjects of cultural interest in the 1880â1920 period of British literature. Submissions are typically 20â25 double-spaced pages. While we publish reviews of books about Joseph Conrad, Henry James, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, and W. B. Yeats, we do not publish articles on such major figures unless the discussion is linked to less-prominent authors of the era. We do not publish unsolicited book reviews.