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Penn State University Press

Penn State University Press

Website: http://www.psupress.org

As part of the University Libraries, the Penn State Press is dedicated to the task of promoting the dissemination of knowledge through the publication of books and journals that convey the results of original research in the form of new information, interpretations, or methods of analysis. Publishing between 60-70 books and 30 journals each year, the Press represents the interests of the University generally in contributing to better communication among scholars everywhere.


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Penn State University Press

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The Bureaucratic Muse Cover

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The Bureaucratic Muse

Thomas Hoccleve and the Literature of Late Medieval England

Ethan Knapp

Long neglected as a marginal and eccentric figure, Thomas Hoccleve (1367–1426) wrote some of the most sophisticated and challenging poetry of the late Middle Ages. Full of gossip and autobiographical detail, his work has made him immensely useful to modern scholars, yet Hoccleve the poet has remained decidedly in the shadow of Geoffrey Chaucer. In The Bureaucratic Muse, Ethan Knapp investigates the connections between Hoccleve's poetic corpus and his life as a clerk of the Privy Seal. The early fifteenth century was a watershed moment in the histories of both centralized bureaucracy and English vernacular literature. These were the decades in which Chaucer's experiments in a courtly English poetry were rendered into a stable tradition and in which the central writing offices at Westminster emerged from personal government into the full-blown modernity of independent civil service. Knapp shows the importance of Hoccleve's poetry as a site where these two histories come together. By following the shifting relationship between the texts of vernacular poetry and those of bureaucratic documents, Knapp argues that the roots of vernacular fiction reach back into the impersonal documentary habits of a bureaucratic class. The Bureaucratic Muse, the first full-length study of Hoccleve since 1968, provides an authoritative historical and textual treatment of this important but underappreciated writer. Chapters focus on Hoccleve's importance in consolidating key concepts of the literary field such as autobiography, religious heterodoxy, gendered identity, and post-Chaucer textuality. This book will be of interest to scholars of Middle English literature, autobiography, gender studies, and the history of literary institutions.

The Burke-Wollstonecraft Debate Cover

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The Burke-Wollstonecraft Debate

Savagery, Civilization, and Democracy

Daniel I. O'Neill

Many modern conservatives and feminists trace the roots of their ideologies, respectively, to Edmund Burke (1729–1797) and Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797), and a proper understanding of these two thinkers is therefore important as a framework for political debates today.According to Daniel O’Neill, Burke is misconstrued if viewed as mainly providing a warning about the dangers of attempting to turn utopian visions into political reality, while Wollstonecraft is far more than just a proponent of extending the public sphere rights of man to include women. Rather, at the heart of their differences lies a dispute over democracy as a force tending toward savagery (Burke) or toward civilization (Wollstonecraft). Their debate over the meaning of the French Revolution is the place where these differences are elucidated, but the real key to understanding what this debate is about is its relation to the intellectual tradition of the Scottish Enlightenment, whose language of politics provided the discursive framework within and against which Burke and Wollstonecraft developed their own unique ideas about what was involved in the civilizing process.

Can Globalization Promote Human Rights? Cover

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Can Globalization Promote Human Rights?

Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann

Career Stories Cover

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Career Stories

Belle Époque Novels of Professional Development

By Juliette M. Rogers

In Career Stories, Juliette Rogers considers a body of largely unexamined novels from the Belle Époque that defy the usual categories allowed the female protagonist of the period. While most literary studies of the Belle Époque (1880-1914) focus on the conventional housewife or harlot distinction for female protagonists, the heroines investigated in Career Stories are professional lawyers, doctors, teachers, writers, archeologists, and scientists.In addition to the one well-known woman writer from the Belle Époque, Colette, this study will expand our knowledge of relatively unknown authors, including Gabrielle Reval, Marcelle Tinayre, and Colette Yver, who actively participated in contemporary debates on women's possible roles in the public domain and in professional careers during this period. Career Stories seeks to understand early twentieth century France by examining novels written about professional women, bourgeois and working-class heroines, and the particular dilemmas that they faced. This book contributes a new facet to literary histories of the Belle Époque: a subgenre of the Bildungsroman that flourished briefly during the first decade of the twentieth century in France. Rogers terms this subgenre the female Berufsroman, or novel of women's professional development.Career Stories will change the way we think about the Belle Époque and the interwar period in French literary history, because these women writers and their novels changed the direction that fiction writing would take in post-World War I France.

Carework and Class Cover

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Carework and Class

Domestic Workers' Struggle for Equal Rights in Latin America

Merike Blofield

Labor laws in Latin America have traditionally discriminated against domestic workers, mandating longer legal work hours and lower benefits. While elite resistance to reform has been widespread, during the past twenty years a handful of countries have instituted equal rights. This book examines how domestic workers’ mobilization, strategic alliances, and political windows of opportunity can lead to improved rights even in a region as unequal as Latin America.

Chaim Potok Cover

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Chaim Potok

Confronting Modernity Through the Lens of Tradition

Edited by Daniel Walden

Chaim Potok was a world-class writer and scholar, a Conservative Jew who wrote from and about his tradition and his conflicts between observance and acculturation. With a plain, straightforward style, his novels were set against the moral, spiritual and intellectual currents of the twentieth century. The aim of the collection is to widen further the lens through which we read Chaim Potok, to establish him as an authentic American writer, one who has created unforgettable characters forging for themselves American identities while also retaining their Jewish nature. These essays illuminate the central struggle in Potok’s novels, the struggle resulting from a profound desire to reconcile the appeal of modernity with the pull of traditional Judaism. The volume concludes with a memoir by Adena Potok and Chaim Potok’s “My Life as a Writer,” a speech the author gave at Penn State in 1982. Aside from the editor, the contributors are Victoria Aarons, Nathan Devir, Jane Eisner, Susanne Klingenstein, Lillian Kremer, Jessica Lang, Sanford Marovitz, Kathryn McClymond, Hugh Nissenson, Adena Potok, Chaim Potok, and Jonathan Rosen.

Challenging Liberalism Cover

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Challenging Liberalism

Feminism as Political Critique

Lisa H. Schwartzman

Questions about the relevance and value of various liberal concepts are at the heart of important debates among feminist philosophers and social theorists. Although many feminists invoke concepts such as rights, equality, autonomy, and freedom in arguments for liberation, some attempt to avoid them, noting that they can also reinforce and perpetuate oppressive social structures. In Challenging Liberalism Schwartzman explores the reasons why concepts such as rights and equality can sometimes reinforce oppression. She argues that certain forms of abstraction and individualism are central to liberal methodology and that these give rise to a number of problems. Drawing on the work of feminist moral, political, and legal theorists, she constructs an approach that employs these concepts, while viewing them from within a critique of social relations of power.

Chaos and Cosmos Cover

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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.

Chaucer, Gower, and the Vernacular Rising Cover

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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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