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Changing Perspectives in Literature and the Visual Arts, 1650-1820

Murray Roston

Continuing with the theme of his work Renaissance Perspectives in Literature and the Visual Arts, Murray Roston applies to a later period the same critical principle: that for each generation there exists a central complex of inherited ideas and urgent contemporary concerns to which each creative artist and writer responds in his or her own way. Roston demonstrates that what emerges is not a fixed or monolithic pattern for each generation but a dynamic series of responses to shared challenges. The book relates leading English writers and literary modes to contemporary developments in architecture, painting, and sculpture. "A sumptuous book. . . . Clearly and gracefully written and cogently argued, Roston's admirable achievement is of paramount significance to literary studies, to cultural and art history, and to aesthetics. . . . Outstanding."--Choice

Originally published in 1992.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Changing The Subject

Mary Wroth and Figurations of Gender in Early Modern England

Naomi Miller

Lady Mary Wroth (c. 1587-1653) wrote the first sonnet sequence in English by a woman, one of the first plays by a woman, and the first published work of fiction by an Englishwoman. Yet, despite her status as a member of the distinguished Sidney family, Wroth met with disgrace at court for her authorship of a prose romance, which was adjudged an inappropriate endeavor for a woman and was forcibly withdrawn from publication. Only recently has recognition of Wroth's historical and literary importance been signaled by the publication of the first modern edition of her romance, The Countess of Mountgomeries Urania.

Naomi Miller offers an illuminating study of this significant early modern woman writer. Using multiple critical/theoretical perspectives, including French feminism, new historicism, and cultural materialism, she examines gender in Wroth's time. Moving beyond the emphasis on victimization that shaped many previous studies, she considers the range of strategies devised by women writers of the period to establish voices for themselves.

Where previous critics have viewed Wroth primarily in relation to her male literary predecessors in the Sidney family, Miller explores Wroth's engagement with a variety of discourses, reading her in relation to a broad range of English and continental authors, both male and female, from Sidney, Spenser, and Shakespeare to Aemilia Lanier, Elizabeth Cary, and Marguerite de Navarre. She also contextualizes Wroth's writing in relation to a variety of nonliterary texts of the period, both political and domestic. Thanks to Miller's sensitive readings, Wroth's writings provide a lens through which to view gender relations in the early modern period.

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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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Chaucer, Gower, and the Vernacular Rising

Poetry and the Problem of the Populace After 1381

By Lynn Arner

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.

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The Chaucer Review

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.

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Chaucerian Theatricality

John M. Ganim

Whereas modern criticism has emphasized the unity and sense of permanence in The Canterbury Tales, John Ganim alerts us to a dialectically opposing dimension that Chaucer's poetics shares with the popular culture of the late Middle Ages: his celebration of the ephemeral and his sense of performance. Ganim uses the concept of theatricality to illuminate Chaucer's manipulations of the forms of popular culture and high literary discourse. He calls upon recent work in semiotics and social history to question Mikhail Bakhtin's notion of the "carnivalesque" and the "dialogic," at the same time suggesting Bakhtin's usefulness in understanding Chaucer.

This book includes chapters on how Chaucer adopts the voice of such popular literary forms as chronicles and pious collections, on his equivalence between his own image making and dramatic performance, and on Chaucer's and Boccaccio's handling of the related issues of popular understanding and the creation of illusions. The book concludes by describing how Chaucer conflates "noise" and popular expression, simultaneously appropriating and distancing himself from his richest cultural context.

Originally published in 1990.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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