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Studies by Time Period > 19th Century/Victorian Studies

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The Gothic Novel 1790--1830

Plot Summaries and Index to Motifs

Ann B. Tracy

A research guide for specialists in the Gothic novel, the Romantic movement, the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novel, and popular culture, this work contains summaries of more than two hundred novels, reputed to be Gothic, published in English between 1790 and 1830. Also included are indexes of titles and characters and an extensive index of characteristic objects, motifs, and themes that recur in the novels -- such as corpses, bloody and otherwise, dungeons, secret passageways, filicide, fratricide, infanticide, matricide, patricide, and suicide.

The novels described, including those by such writers as Charlotte Dacre, Louisa Sidney Stanhope, Regina Maria Roche, Charles Maturin, and Mary Shelley, are for the most part out of print and circulation and are unavailable except in rare book rooms. Thus this book provides the researcher with ready access to information that would otherwise be difficult to obtain.

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Gothic Riffs

Secularizingthe Uncanny in the European Imaginary, 1780-1820

Gothic Riffs: Secularizing the Uncanny in the European Imaginary, 1780–1820 by Diane Long Hoeveler provides the first comprehensive study of what are called “collateral gothic” genres—operas, ballads, chapbooks, dramas, and melodramas—that emerged out of the gothic novel tradition founded by Horace Walpole, Matthew Lewis, and Ann Radcliffe. The role of religion and its more popular manifestations, superstition and magic, in the daily lives of Western Europeans were effectively undercut by the forces of secularization that were gaining momentum on every front, particularly by 1800. It is clear, however, that the lower class and the emerging bourgeoisie were loath to discard their traditional beliefs. We can see their search for a sense of transcendent order and spiritual meaning in the continuing popularity of gothic performances that demonstrate that there was more than a residue of a religious calendar still operating in the public performative realm. Because this bourgeois culture could not turn away from God, it chose to be haunted, in its literature and drama, by God’s uncanny avatars: priests, corrupt monks, incestuous fathers, and uncles. The gothic aesthetic emerged during this period as an ideologically contradictory and complex discourse system; a secularizing of the uncanny; a way of alternately valorizing and at the same time slandering the realms of the supernatural, the sacred, the maternal, and the primitive.

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In Hawthorne's Shadow

American Romance from Melville to Mailer

Samuel Chase Coale

"The world is so sad and solemn," wrote Nathaniel Hawthorne, "that things meant in jest are liable, by an overwhelming influence, to become dreadful earnest; gaily dressed fantasies turning to ghostly and black-clad images of themselves." From the radical dualism of Hawthorne's vision, Samuel Coale argues, springs a continuing tradition in the American novel. In Hawthorne's Shadow is the first critical study to describe precisely the formal shape of Hawthorne's psychological romance and to explore his themes and images in relation to such contemporary writers as John Cheever, Norman Mailer, Joan Didion, John Gardner, Joyce Carol Oates, William Styron, and John Updike. When viewed from this perspective, certain writers -- particularly Cheever, Mailer, Oates, and Gardner -- appear in a new and very different light, leading to a considerable reevaluation of their achievement and their place in American fiction.

Mr. Coale's long interviews and conversations with John Cheever, John Gardner, William Styron, and others have provided insights and perspectives that make this book particularly valuable to students of contemporary American literature. Coale links contemporary writers to an on-going American romantic tradition, represented by such earlier authors as Melville, Harold Frederic, Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, and Carson McCullers. He explores the distinctly Manichean matter of much American romance, linking it to America's Puritan past and to the almost schizophrenic dynamics of American culture in general. Finally, he reexamines the post-modernist writers in light of Hawthorne's "shadow" and shows that, however similar they may be in some ways, they differ remarkably from the previous American romantic tradition.

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J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists

Vol. 1 (2013) through current issue

J19 is the official publication of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists. Published twice annually, the journal will be dedicated to publishing innovative research on and analysis of the "long nineteenth century" (1783-1914).

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Journal of Victorian Culture

Vol. 11 (2006) through Vol. 13 (2008)

Journal of Victorian Culture is essential reading for scholars of the Victorian period. Beautifully produced, the Journal was established in Spring 1996, and is edited and published in Britain with the assistance of a distinguished group of Editorial Consultants. It provides an international forum for discussion and debate on all aspects of Victorian history and culture in a diverse range of formats, including articles, perspectives, roundtables and a section of substantial reviews.

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Vol. 1 (1999) through current issue

Leviathan features a bounty of scholarly articles, notes, reviews, and creative writing of a critical, theoretical, cultural, or historical nature on the impressive body of work of American novelist and poet Herman Melville (1819-1891). Published under the aegis of The Melville Society--one of the oldest single-author societies in the United States--Leviathan includes a regular feature, “Extracts,” for sharing Melville Society transactions and programs as well as abstracts of papers delivered at its annual MLA and ALA panels. Leviathan also regularly publishes special issues, book reviews, interviews, and poems.

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Literary Tourism, the Trossachs, and Walter Scott

Edited by Ian Brown

In 1810 a literary phenomenon swept through Britain, Europe and beyond: the publication of Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem The Lady of the Lake, set in the wild romantic landscape around Loch Katrine and the Trossachs. The world’s first international blockbusting bestseller, in terms of sheer publishing sensation nothing like it was seen until the Harry Potter books. Exploring the potent appeal that links books, places, authors and readers, this collection of eleven essays examines tourism in the Trossachs both before and after 1810, and surveys the indigenous Gaelic culture of the area. It also considers how Sir Walter’s writings responded to the landscape, history and literature of the region, and traces his impact on the tourists, authors and artists who thronged in his wake.

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Monstrous Progeny

A History of the Frankenstein Narratives

Lester D. Friedman

Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein is its own type of monster mythos that will not die, a corpus whose parts keep getting harvested to animate new artistic creations. What makes this tale so adaptable and so resilient that, nearly 200 years later, it remains vitally relevant in a culture radically different from the one that spawned its birth?
Monstrous Progeny takes readers on a fascinating exploration of the Frankenstein family tree, tracing the literary and intellectual roots of Shelley’s novel from the sixteenth century and analyzing the evolution of the book’s figures and themes into modern productions that range from children’s cartoons to pornography. Along the way, media scholar Lester D. Friedman and historian Allison B. Kavey examine the adaptation and evolution of Victor Frankenstein and his monster across different genres and in different eras. In doing so, they demonstrate how Shelley’s tale and its characters continue to provide crucial reference points for current debates about bioethics, artificial intelligence, cyborg lifeforms, and the limits of scientific progress. 
Blending an extensive historical overview with a detailed analysis of key texts, the authors reveal how the Frankenstein legacy arose from a series of fluid intellectual contexts and continues to pulsate through an extraordinary body of media products. Both thought-provoking and entertaining, Monstrous Progeny offers a lively look at an undying and significant cultural phenomenon.

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Mourning Happiness

Narrative and the Politics of Modernity

For many eighteenth-century thinkers, happiness was a revolutionary new idea filled with the promise of the Enlightenment. However, Vivasvan Soni argues that the period fails to establish the importance of happiness as a guiding idea for human practice, generating our modern sentimental idea of happiness. Mourning Happiness shows how the eighteenth century's very obsession with happiness culminates in the political obsolescence of the idea.

Soni explains that this puzzling phenomenon can only be comprehended by studying a structural transformation of the idea of happiness at the level of narrative form. Happiness is stripped of its ethical and political content, Soni demonstrates, when its intimate relation to narrative is destroyed. This occurs, paradoxically, in some of the most characteristic narratives of the period: eighteenth-century novels including Pamela, The Vicar of Wakefield, and Julie; the pervasive sentimentalism of the time; Kant's ethics; and the political thought of Rousseau and Jefferson.

For Soni, the classical Greek idea of happiness-epitomized by Solon's proverb "Call no man happy until he is dead"-opens the way to imagining a properly secular conception of happiness, one that respects human finitude and mortality. By analyzing the story of Solon's encounter with Croesus, Attic funeral orations, Greek tragedy, and Aristotle's ethics, Soni explains what it means to think, rather than feel, a happiness available for public judgment, rooted in narrative, unimaginable without a relationship to community, and irreducible to an emotional state. Such an ideal, Soni concludes, would allow for a radical reenvisioning of a politics that takes happiness seriously and responds to our highest aspirations rather than merely keeping our basest motivations in check.

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A Natural History of the Romance Novel

By Pamela Regis

The romance novel has the strange distinction of being the most popular but least respected of literary genres. While it remains consistently dominant in bookstores and on best-seller lists, it is also widely dismissed by the critical community. Scholars have alleged that romance novels help create subservient readers, who are largely women, by confining heroines to stories that ignore issues other than love and marriage.

Pamela Regis argues that such critical studies fail to take into consideration the personal choice of readers, offer any true definition of the romance novel, or discuss the nature and scope of the genre. Presenting the counterclaim that the romance novel does not enslave women but, on the contrary, is about celebrating freedom and joy, Regis offers a definition that provides critics with an expanded vocabulary for discussing a genre that is both classic and contemporary, sexy and entertaining.

Taking the stance that the popular romance novel is a work of literature with a brilliant pedigree, Regis asserts that it is also a very old, stable form. She traces the literary history of the romance novel from canonical works such as Richardson's Pamela through Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Brontë's Jane Eyre, and E. M. Hull's The Sheik, and then turns to more contemporary works such as the novels of Georgette Heyer, Mary Stewart, Janet Dailey, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Nora Roberts.

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