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  • Some Current Publications
  • Heather E. Barrett


Joseph Addison

Syba, Michelle. “After Design: Joseph Addison Discovers Beauties.” SEL 49.3 (2009): 615–635. After noting that early-eighteenth-century criticism emphasizes the overall importance of “design,” which “comprehends the effable content of literature, the rational structure and the intelligible moral that lend literature to public discussion,” Syba observes that, in his discussion of Paradise Lost in the Spectator, Addison attends to a triad of features that complicate this trend. Examining not just the “authoritative schemes of ‘Plan’ and ‘Design’” but also showing greater apparent interest in the “‘Beauties’” of passages that “mark sites of reader activity” and allow for the experience of “special pleasure,” Addison’s reading of Milton’s text reflects “a shift away from early-eighteenth-century critics’ focus on authorial intentions and powers.” Syba further contends, however, that “what begins as an intentionalist commitment that relaxes in practice returns as a desire for the author’s intention,” insisting that, for Addison, “beauties take the form of hints…that promise a degree of contact with an intending authorial mind.” Addison’s persistent “intersubjective curiosity” about literature thus champions a “less-polarized relationship between intentionalist commitments and ‘anti-intentionalist’ practices” in critical technique.

Mary Astell

Michelson, Michal, and William Kol-brener. “The Canonized Mary Astell: Gender, Canon, Context.” In Women Editing/Editing Women: Early Modern Women Writers and the New Textualism. [End Page 175] Ed. Ann Hollinshead Hurley and Chanita Goodblatt. Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars, 2009. 203–225. Calling attention to the influence of Astell’s early biographer George Ballard, Michelson and Kolbrener write that his overemphasis on “Astell’s propensities for obscurity” developed into “a historiographical principle that governed [her] reception” until first-wave feminist scholarship “resuscitated both her life and work.” The “renewed attention to Astell,” they go on to observe, initially resulted in the canonization of only those texts which showcase “her feminist declarations and her status as an early modern woman writer,” even as some scholars argued for reading Astell within the more “multivalent contexts – theological, political, philosophical, historical, and rhetorical – in which she wrote.” This multivalent evaluation of Astell, Michelson and Kolbrener argue, allows for the most productive “complication” of Astell’s status as a feminist icon. Their chapter goes on to describe how this need for “a more inclusive treatment of Astell’s wide-ranging interests” informed their editorial choices for their collection of critical essays Mary Astell: Reason, Gender, Faith (2007).

Aphra Behn

Bowers, Toni. “Behn’s Monmouth: Sedition, Seduction, and Tory Ideology in the 1680s.” Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture 38 (2009): 15–44. Bowers describes how literature of the 1680s routinely depicted James, Duke of Monmouth, “as a kind of walking paradox – the personification of all that was lovely and heroic as well as all that was despicable, ungodly, and treasonous.” She goes on to note that “the most salient trope used to represent Monmouth’s paradoxical agency in his own day…was the trope of seduction” and evinces particular interest in Behn’s representation of “the fallen prince’s history as seduced seducer” in her Love-Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister. As this text “exploit[s] the plot paradigms and narrative topoi characteristic of seduction fiction in [Behn’s] day,” Bowers suggests that it simultaneously works to revise these topoi; as a result, the legacy of Behn’s work in this text is the creation of “a specific kind of seduction story” that could be used “for specific Tory partisan purposes…for generations to come.”

Greene, Logan Dale. “The Sexualization of Hysteria: Aphra Behn.” In The Discourse of Hysteria: The Topoi of Humility, Physicality, and Authority in Women’s Rhetoric. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2009. 109–138. Greene reads Behn’s rhetoric in The Lucky Chance, The Rover, and Oroonoko as employing a “discourse of hysteria,” which she further frames as “a discourse strategy based on a position of alienation and protest” adopted by many women of the period. She goes on to trace Behn’s engagement with a series of well-established topoi that are “unarticulated commonplaces in women’s literary and oratorical work,” highlighting in particular her use of “the topos...


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