This memorial tribute reflects on the personal and intellectual qualities of Elizabeth Fox‐Genovese (1941–2007), who was the author's teacher. Higginbotham says that her first impressions of Fox‐Genovese, formed in a graduate seminar in European history at the University of Rochester in the mid‐1970s, have been lasting impressions. The seminar introduced patterns of thought and behavior that proved consistent over the years, despite Fox‐Genovese's several shifts in the past three decades—from Marxist to non‐Marxist, historian of France to historian of antebellum Southern women, feminist to nonfeminist, and religious agnostic to devout Catholic. Higginbotham discusses political theorist C. B. McPherson's idea of "possessive individualism" and its influence on Fox‐Genovese's steadfast belief that individual rights derive from society (rather than innate nature) and that the concept of individualism maintains a contradictory and fraught relationship between individual and community. Her analysis and political positions often distanced her from her colleagues. But in this meditation on a brilliant mind and complex life, Higginbotham observes that Fox‐Genovese never abandoned the tendency to speak openly and candidly, and thus to present herself vulnerable to the criticism of onlookers.
Elizabeth Fox‐Genovese died in January 2007. She was a renowned scholar and important public intellectual, but in this reminiscence Mark Bauerlein recalls her as something else: a model colleague. Despite the many attacks on her work and the difficulties she encountered in her professional life, she always conducted herself with respect and high‐mindedness. Never did Bauerlein witness her give in to gossip and vitriol. She was an example of the best of higher education, and academia is a diminished place without her.
This text of Elizabeth Fox‐Genovese's is published posthumously in the context of pieces dedicated to her memory. It is unclear whether she intended it for eventual publication or whether she had intended it as a lecture; nor is there decisive evidence for a date of composition. In it, she reviews the stance of feminist literary criticism toward religion and finds it to be generally negative. She regrets that feminist critics see in religion mostly a means of subordinating women to men, given that most of the writers whose work they explicate were themselves fervently religious. She then examines the feminization of religion in nineteenth‐century America and the growing idea at the time of female moral stewardship. After examining the contrasting approaches taken to the process of feminization by Harriet Beecher Stowe and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Fox‐Genovese then takes as her main case Augusta Jane Evans's novels Beulah and St. Elmo. She argues that feminist critics, in concentrating on questions about the marriage or independence of Evans's characters miss Evans's central concern, which was the loss and recovery of her characters' faith. The feminist critics (given their hostility to religion) misunderstand that Evans's stance was not one against female individualism, but rather (given her commitment as a Christian) a stance against the unbridled individualism of modern American society.
This essay introduces a cluster of articles titled "Devalued Currency: An Elegiac Symposium on Paradigm Shifts." Eagleton's piece addresses, from a perspective indebted to Walter Benjamin, the notion of Thomas Kuhn that "shifts" in the controlling paradigms of disciplines and practices are entirely transformative not only of their futures but also of their pasts. Benjamin argued that a work of art is a set of potentials that may or may not be realized in the vicissitudes of its afterlife. The true significance of works might be said, therefore, to emerge only after some asyet‐ unexpected event or upheaval makes their significance apparent. In this sense, we might argue that historical events make full sense only in the light of "judgment day"; until then, history remains an incoherent chronicle. But the totality that will one day be revealed cannot be anticipated. The past is open‐ended because the present is, and meanwhile, the meaning of history is in our hands to change. Since we have that power, Eagleton suggests that we recycle figures of the past as characters in a comedy rather than tragedy. Still, it is never possible to say which figures of the past and which works are ultimately important and which are not, because we cannot say which mutations will result in major developments to come. No work or person is important or peripheral in itself or himself; it is the critic and historian who render them so.
This essay takes the Morte Darthur of Sir Thomas Malory as a test case for the applicability of Thomas Kuhn's notion of "paradigm shifts" to the history of culture. While Kuhn apparently found inspiration in the disciplines of cultural and art history for his idea that scientific progress is noncumulative, the arts and humanities (unlike the sciences) must deal with the ideas of (and the evidence for) "Renaissance" and "renascence," "resistance" and "reaction." A poet such as Malory may achieve a permanent place in literary history and on required‐reading lists by resisting a shift in paradigm, whereas a scientist who resists will effectively disappear. Thus, the Morte Darthur set the terms for modern literature in English by holding fast to those of the Middle Ages. This essay argues that Malory was "modern" in that the Morte Darthur would not have been written except for the events in England and France of 1454–85 but that what was most modern about him was his resistance to concomitant changes in English society.
Until recently, the general judgment of the once admired and influential Nazarene painters of early‐nineteenth‐century Germany, among those who paid any attention to their work, was that in rejecting everything that came after the young Raphael and seeking inspiration in the Italian "primitives," they had taken the wrong road and ended up in a cul‐de‐sac, in contrast to contemporaries such as Géricault and Delacroix, Constable and Turner, who had taken the road that led, without break, to modernity. To the Nazarenes, however, as to the neoclassical artists of the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (David, Flaxman, Carstens) and their theorist Winckelmann, going back meant going forward—beyond illusionism. The obscurity into which Friedrich Overbeck, Franz Pforr, Peter Cornelius, and Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld have fallen raises questions about the degree to which the long dominant and ideologically loaded narrative of art history as a "development" toward modernity has determined not only how viewers today respond to works of art but what art they get to see.
A paradigm shift occurred in musical culture in the early nineteenth century, whereby revered old works—newly called "classics"—began to rival contemporary ones as the guiding authority over taste. This article explores the less well‐known composers found on programs in the period when classical repertories were becoming established. A kind of professional collegiality developed during this period on concert programs among pieces of diverse age and taste, reaching far beyond the iconic composers (now seen by most of us to have been Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, and Mendelssohn). Many of the "other" composers came from Italy, France, or Britain and became famous for opera selections and songs, some termed "popular," and a substantial number of their pieces were performed throughout the nineteenth century. The present‐day narrative of music history has canonic blind spots for composers then widely performed—Louis Spohr, Thomas Arne, Giovanni Viotti, Etienne‐Nicolas Méhul, George Onslow, Louise Farrenc, and Robert Franz, for example. To understand musical life of that time, it is necessary to rethink the language of canon and canonization. The concept of canonization and the concept of the masterpiece have narrowed musical thinking harmfully. We need to look back at the fruitful collegiality that existed between canonic and contemporary music in the early nineteenth century, involving as it did a wide array of composers and tastes not yet bound by rigid assumptions about supposed "levels" of taste.
Speaking freely is considered an essential component of academic freedom and freedom of inquiry. Unfortunately, historically as well as currently, the right to speak freely has often resulted in polemics and disputes between scholars. But the entire purpose of frankness in speech, whether in the academic or the political realm, is to persuade the person or people addressed to adopt a particular course of action. The concept of frank speaking, or parrhesia, first appeared among the Greeks as a political virtue, one exercised among free men in the public assembly for the common good. But parrhesia also was prized in the more private arena of the philosophical schools, where it was associated with the art of moral guidance. The philosophers were united in regarding frank criticism as the mark of true friendship. The consensus among them appears to have been that frank criticism was best employed with sensitivity to the situation, privately in the context of the philosophical community, and with due attention to the abilities, vulnerabilities, and needs of the person being corrected, so that he or she might heed the advice given. Modern academics likewise should strive to express their frank opinions in a way that will commend their ideas to others, speaking freely in the explicit service of persuasion for the common good. When frankness is teamed with persuasion, academic freedom finds its true purpose, and this article recommends the longforgotten concept of parrhesia as a means to these ends.
One of Europe's most famous men during his own lifetime, 1580–1637—a life that spanned deadly civil wars of religion and deadly international warfare with decades of cold peace—Peiresc was soon largely forgotten, even among fellow scholars. One of the exceptionally interesting aspects of his intellectual life was how rooted it was in the social life of learning. As one of the key figures in the early‐seventeenthcentury Republic of Letters, Peiresc was able to search out and transmit information to the far corners of Europe: which is to say, from Goa and Algiers to Lubeck and London. But what most marked his practice was an extraordinary tact—not just politeness, but a form of wisdom. Peiresc was able to see beyond immediate disagreements or disagreeablenesses to the larger issues that united thinking people across Europe. His defense of Galileo to his very persecutors is a famous example; his support for Rabbi Salomon Azubi of Carpentras against the anti‐Semitic attack of Athanasius Kircher, no less worthy of celebration. But then there is his later defense of that same Kircher against devastating scholarly criticism despite his agreement with it, on the grounds that on the big issues of the day—freedom of thought and the rule of law—Kircher had actually supported the right side (rather than his own Jesuit order). This essay concludes by asking how many scholars, then or since, have been able to keep their priorities so clearly in view.