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Penn State University Press
Literary Roots of Modern Ecology in the British Nineteenth Century
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.
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.
In Christine de Pizan and the Fight for France, Tracy Adams offers a reevaluation of Christine de Pizan’s literary engagement with contemporary politics. Adams locates Christine’s works within a detailed narrative of the complex history of the dispute between the Burgundians and the Armagnacs, the two largest political factions in fifteenth-century France. Contrary to what many scholars have long believed, Christine consistently supported the Armagnac faction throughout her literary career and maintained strong ties to Louis of Orleans and Isabeau of Bavaria. Adams claims that Christine’s writings not only voiced support for Louis and Isabeau in opposition to John of Burgundy, but also contributed to defining kingship and creating authority in France’s turbulent political climate. In addition, Christine promoted, defended, and profoundly affected the nature of female regency as it developed in France from the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries. Alternating between chapters focusing on the historical context of the Armagnac-Burgundian feud at different moments, and chapters offering close readings of Christine’s poetry and prose, Adams shows the ways in which the writer was closely engaged with and influenced the volatile politics of her time.
Religion and Wealth in Industrial-Era Philadelphia
In Church and Estate, Thomas Rzeznik examines the lives and religious commitments of the Philadelphia elite during the period of industrial prosperity that extended from the late nineteenth century through the 1920s. It reveals the influence their wealth and status afforded them within their religious communities, while simultaneously tracing how religious beliefs informed their actions and shaped their class identity. In tracing those connections, it shows how religion and wealth shared a fruitful, yet ultimately tenuous, relationship.
A Study of German-American Broadsides and Their Meaning for Germans in North America, 1730–1830
In Citizens in a Strange Land, Hermann Wellenreuther examines the broadsides—printed single sheets—produced by the Pennsylvania German community. These broadsides covered topics ranging from Local Controversies and Politics to Devotional Poems and Hymns. Each one is the product of and reaction to a particular historical setting. To understand them fully, Wellenreuther systematically reconstructs Pennsylvania’s print culture, the material conditions of life, the problems German settlers faced, the demands their communities addressed to the individual settler, the complications to be overcome, and the needs to be satisfied. He shows how these broadsides provided advice, projections, and comment on phases of life from the cradle to grave.
Oral History, Analysis, Debates
Cold War Endgame is the product of an unusual collaborative effort by policymakers and scholars to promote better understanding of how the Cold War ended. It includes the transcript of a conference, hosted by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh, in which high-level veterans of the Bush and Gorbachev governments shared their recollections and interpretations of the crucial events of 1989-91: the revolutions in Eastern Europe; the reuni¹cation of Germany; the Persian Gulf War; the August 1991 coup; and the collapse of the USSR. Taking this testimony as a common reference and drawing on the most recent evidence available, six chapters follow in which historians and political scientists explore the historical and theoretical puzzles presented by this extraordinary transition. This discussion features a debate over the relative importance of ideas, personality, and economic pressures in explaining the Cold War's end.
A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice
In Collective Courage, Jessica Gordon Nebhard chronicles African American cooperative business ownership and its place in the movements for Black civil rights and economic equality. Not since Du Bois’ 1907 Economic Cooperation among Negroes has there been a full-length, nation-wide study of African American cooperatives. Collective Courage extends that story into the twentieth century. Many of the players are well-known in the history of the African American experience: W. E. B. Du Bois, A. Philip Randolph and the Women’s Auxiliary of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Jo Baker, George Schuyler and the Young Negroes Cooperative League, the Nation of Islam, and the Black Panther Party. Adding the cooperative movement to Black history provides a retelling of the African American experience, with an increased understanding of African American collective economic agency and grassroots economic organizing. To tell the story, Gordon Nembhard pores over newspapers, period magazines and journals; co-ops’ articles of incorporation, minutes from annual meetings, newsletters, budgets and income statements; scholarly books, memoirs and biographies to reveal the achievements and challenges of Black co-ops, collective economic action, and social entrepreneurship. She also uses mixed methods economic analysis of quantitative and qualitative data, theoretical analysis and applied theory to understand the effectiveness of the particular practices and/or strategies documented. Themes of economic independence, the critical role of women and youth in the African American cooperative movement, and the use of cooperatives by Black organizations for community economic development are interwoven into a linear treatment of the development of cooperatives among African Americans in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Gordon Nembhard finds that African Americans, as well as other people of color and low-income people, have benefitted greatly from cooperative ownership and democratic economic participation throughout the nation’s history.
Political Imagination and Community
How do we go about imagining different and better worlds for ourselves? Collective Dreams looks at ideals of community, frequently embraced as the basis for reform across the political spectrum, as the predominant form of political imagination in America today. Examining how these ideals circulate without having much real impact on social change provides an opportunity to explore the difficulties of practicing critical theory in a capitalist society. Different chapters investigate how ideals of community intersect with conceptions of self and identity, family, the public sphere and civil society, and the state, situating community at the core of the most contested political and social arenas of our time. Ideals of community also influence how we evaluate, choose, and build the spaces in which we live, as the author’s investigations of Celebration, Florida, and of West Philadelphia show. Following in the tradition of Walter Benjamin, Keally McBride reveals how consumer culture affects our collective experience of community as well as our ability to imagine alternative political and social orders. Taking ideals of community as a case study, Collective Dreams also explores the structure and function of political imagination to answer the following questions: What do these oppositional ideals reveal about our current political and social experiences? How is the way we imagine alternative communities nonetheless influenced by capitalism, liberalism, and individualism? How can these ideals of community be used more effectively to create social change?