Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth-Century Studies

Published by: University of New Hampshire Press

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Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth-Century Studies

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Convict Voices

Women, Class, and Writing about Prison in Nineteenth-Century England

Anne Schwan

In this lively study of the development and transformation of voices of female offenders in nineteenth-century England, Anne Schwan analyzes a range of colorful sources, including crime broadsides, reform literature, prisoners’ own writings about imprisonment and courtroom politics, and conventional literary texts, such as Adam Bede and The Moonstone. Not only does Schwan demonstrate strategies for interpreting ambivalent and often contradictory texts, she also provides a carefully historicized approach to the work of feminist recovery. Crossing class lines, genre boundaries, and gender roles in the effort to trace prisoners, authors, and female communities (imagined or real), Schwan brings new insight to what it means to locate feminist (or protofeminist) details, arguments, and politics. In this case, she tracks the emergence of a contested, and often contradictory, feminist consciousness, through the prism of nineteenth-century penal debates. The historical discussion is framed by reflections on contemporary debates about prisoner perspectives to illuminate continuities and differences. Convict Voices offers a sophisticated approach to interpretive questions of gender, genre, and discourse in the representation of female convicts and their voices and viewpoints.

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Fever Reading

Affect and Reading Badly in the Early American Public Sphere

Michael Millner

Drawing on a rich archive of scandal chronicles, pornography, medical journals, religious novels, and popular newspapers, as well as more canonical sources, Michael Millner examines the panics and paranoia associated with "bad reading" in the United States from the late eighteenth century to the Civil War. Weaving into his analysis a model of emotion recently developed in cognitive psychology, he provides the back-history to our present-day debates about "bad" reading and shows how these debates--both in the past and in the present--are in part about the shape of the public sphere itself.

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From Gift to Commodity

Capitalism and Sacrifice in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction

Fascinating analysis of the significance of the gift, and its increasingly complicated role in an emerging capitalist order, in nineteenth-century American fiction In this rich interdisciplinary study, Hildegard Hoeller argues that nineteenth-century American culture was driven by and deeply occupied with the tension between gift and market exchange. Rooting her analysis in the period’s fiction, she shows how American novelists from Hannah Foster to Frank Norris grappled with the role of the gift based on trust, social bonds, and faith in an increasingly capitalist culture based on self-interest, market transactions, and economic reason. Placing the notion of sacrifice at the center of her discussion, Hoeller taps into the poignant discourse of modes of exchange, revealing central tensions of American fiction and culture.

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Napoleonic Friendship

Military Fraternity, Intimacy, and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century France

Brian Joseph Martin

Following the French Revolution, radical military reforms created conditions for new physical and emotional intimacy between soldiers, establishing a model of fraternal affection that would persist from the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars through the Franco-Prussian War and World War I.

Based on extensive research in French and American archives, and enriched by his reading of Napoleonic military memoirs and French military fiction from Hugo and Balzac to Zola and Proust, Brian Joseph Martin's view encompasses a broad range of emotional and erotic relationships in French armies from 1789 to 1916. He argues that the French Revolution's emphasis on military fraternity evolved into an unprecedented sense of camaraderie among soldiers in the armies of Napoleon. For many soldiers, the hardships of combat led to intimate friendships. For some, the homosociality of military life inspired mutual affection, lifelong commitment, and homoerotic desire.

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The Parvenu’s Plot

Gender, Culture, and Class in the Age of Realism

Stephanie Foote

In this very readable volume, Stephanie Foote gathers a range of print sources—from novels by Edith Wharton and Henry James to gossip columns, fashion magazines, popular novels, and etiquette manuals—to ask how the realist period understood the individual experience of class. Examining the female arriviste (the parvenu of the title) in turn-of-the-century New York (where a supposedly stable elite was threatened by the nouveaux riches), Foote shows how class became more than just an economic position: it was a fundamental part of individual identity, exemplified by a shifting set of social behaviors that form the core of many nineteenth-century novels. She persuasively presents the female parvenu as a key figure in turn-of-the-century culture that embodies the volatility of social standing and the continuing project of structuring and justifying it.

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Sacramental Shopping

Louisa May Alcott, Edith Wharton, and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism

Sarah Way Sherman

Written a generation apart and rarely treated together by scholars, Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (1868) and Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth (1905) share a deep concern with materialism, moral development, and self-construction. The heroines in both grapple with conspicuous consumption, an aspect of modernity that challenges older beliefs about ethical behavior and core identity.

Placing both novels at the historical intersection of modern consumer culture and older religious discourses on materialism and identity, Sarah Way Sherman analyzes how Alcott and Wharton rework traditional Protestant discourses to interpret their heroines' struggle with modern consumerism. Her conclusion reveals how Little Women's optimism, still buoyed by otherworldly justice, providential interventions, and the notion of essential identity, ultimately gives way to the much darker vision of modern materialistic culture in The House of Mirth.

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Slavery and Sentiment

The Politics of Feeling in Black Atlantic Antislavery Writing, 1770-1850

Christine Levecq

From the eighteenth century on, appeals to listeners' and readers' feelings about the sufferings of slaves were a predominant strategy of abolitionism. This book argues that expressions of feeling in those texts did not just appeal to individual readers' inclinations to sympathy but rather were inherently political. The authors of these texts made arguments from the social and political ideologies that grounded their moral and social lives.

Levecq examines liberalism and republicanism, the main Anglo-American political ideologies of the period, in the antislavery texts of a range of African-American and Afro-British authors. Disclosing the political content hitherto unexamined in this kind of writing, she shows that while the overall story is one of increased liberalization of ideology on both sides of the Atlantic, the republican ideal persisted, particularly among black authors with transatlantic connections.

Demonstrating that such writers as Phillis Wheatley, Ignatius Sancho, Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, and Mary Prince were men and women of their times, Levecq provides valuable new insight into the ideological world of black Atlantic writers and puts them, for the first time, on modernity's political map.

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Slavic Sins of the Flesh

Food, Sex, and Carnal Appetite in Nineteenth-Century Russian Fiction

Ronald D. LeBlanc

A pathbreaking “gastrocritical” approach to the poetics of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and their contemporaries This remarkable work by Ronald D. LeBlanc is the first study to appraise the representation of food and sexuality in the nineteenth-century Russian novel. Meticulously researched and elegantly and accessibly written, Slavic Sins of the Flesh sheds new light on classic literary creations as it examines how authors Nikolay Gogol, Ivan Goncharov, Grigorii Kvitka-Osnovyanenko, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Lev Tolstoy used eating in their works as a trope for male sexual desire. The treatment of carnal desire in these renowned works of fiction stimulated a generation of young writers to challenge Russian culture’s anti-eroticism, supreme spirituality, and utter disregard for the life of the body, so firmly rooted in centuries of ideological domination by the Orthodox Church.

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Transatlantic Conversations

Nineteenth-Century American Women’s Encounters with Italy and the Atlantic World

Beth L. Lueck

This unique interdisciplinary essay collection offers a fresh perspective on the active involvement of American women authors in the nineteenth-century transatlantic world. Internationally diverse contributors explore topics ranging from women’s social and political mobility to their authorship and activism. While a number of essays focus on such well-known writers as Margaret Fuller, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Harriet Beecher Stowe, George Eliot, Louisa May Alcott, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, other, perhaps lesser-known authors are also included, such as E. D. E. N. Southworth, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Elizabeth Peabody, Jeannette Hart, and Laura Richards.

These essays show the spectrum of interests and activities in which nineteenth-century women were involved as they moved, geographically and metaphorically, toward gaining their independence and the right to control their lives. Traveling far and wide—to Italy, France, Great Britain, and the Bahamas—these writers came into contact with realities far different from their own. On topics ranging from homeopathy and literary endeavors to politics and revolution, they conversed with others, reaching and inspiring transnational audiences with their words and deeds, and creating a space for self-expression in the rapidly changing transatlantic world.

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Transatlantic Women

Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers and Great Britain

Beth L. Lueck

In this volume, fifteen scholars from diverse backgrounds analyze American women writers' transatlantic exchanges in the nineteenth century. They show how women writers (and often their publications) traveled to create or reinforce professional networks and identities, to escape strictures on women and African Americans, to promote reform, to improve their health, to understand the workings of other nations, and to pursue cultural and aesthetic education. Presenting new material about women writers' literary friendships, travels, reception and readership, and influences, the volume offers new frameworks for thinking about transatlantic literary studies.

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