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humanities 431 references, in the selected works. And inasmuch as these writers imagine their social and national scenes in theatrical terms, Ackerman considers larger social and cultural contexts too. We learn about the ways Whitman's poetry and poetic theory interweave with conceptions of voice in oratory, opera, and melodrama. The chapter on Melville cogently situates his fictions, with their ambivalences about democracy and gentility, against the meanings of the Astor Place riot, with its stark contrast between the democratic followers of Edwin Forrest and the cultured elite that supported William Charles Macready. Howells's plays set in railroad parlour cars B odd public-private enclosures, where private experience is injected into public space B are shrewdly discussed in connection with a realist theatre that was becoming a private experience in a public place. Louisa May Alcott is intriguingly treated as an author who innovatively reimagined the domestic sphere in theatrical terms, just as the middle class generally was coming to see its private life as imbued with theatricality. And Henry James, in a suitably complicated way, is shown to intertwine his ambivalences about inner experience and outwardly expressive form, and personal freedom and rigid expressive convention, with his ambivalences about melodrama and realism, and theatre and the novel. Along the way we learn much else B about performance and spectatorship , the expressiveness of bodies and language, questions of gender, distinctions of class and ethnicity. But these matters are folded into the central concerns about public and private experience and the theatrical metaphors that express them, and the result is an admirably coherent book. Ackerman's guiding themes may also have served as criteria to exclude things. Why not discuss some of the other authors whose work, he observes, has connections to the theatre B Irving, Longfellow, Stowe, Harte, Twain? And what about Stephen Crane? Or Theodore Dreiser? Or, why write about James's plays and novels, yet, in the slightest chapter, write about only a small handful of Howells's plays? But, again, Ackerman's book is not a survey of the field; instead, it makes a lucid and coherent argument that maps some of the central meanings that crisscross the territory. The result is an intellectually strong and compelling book that effectively contextualizes, and makes convincing connections among, the authors he studies, and in so doing significantly enhances our understanding of them. (RANDALL KNOPER) Andrea Ebel Broóyna. Labour, Love and Prayer: Female Piety in Ulster Religious Literature, 1850-1914 Institute of Irish Studies/Queen's University of Belfast/ McGill-Queen's University Press. xvi, 292. $65.00 The argument of this book is a conventionally if moderately feminist one, 432 letters in canada 1999 that in nineteenth-century Ulster, as elsewhere, a patriarchal Christianity buttressed itself upon the `essentialist' idea that women were spiritually different from and superior to men, and that in Ulster, the Protestant majority and Catholic minority shared this view of things, with similar female `ideals of purity, holiness, service, and self-sacrifice,' although Protestants and Catholics also held hostile feminine stereotypes of each other. Andrea Ebel Broóyna also deploys a sort of neo-Marxism: religious literature for women was essentially bourgeois, `homeostatic and readily adapted to meet the needs of a conservative, middle-class social order that was threatened by change' B among Protestants `by rising Irish nationalism and modern irreligion,' among Catholics `by English cultural imperialism and godless modernism.' Thus `women actively participated in this contradictory patriarchal discourse' in their devoted service to their respective churches, even while the notion of female superiority could be deployed as a critique of `male impiety, carnality, and the sexual double standard,' though this was a minority viewpoint in a male-dominated world. The author vacillates about whether the literature that she is studying shows how women really thought and felt, insisting, however, in her conclusion that `A continuum existed, then, between the written word and the lived experience. Accurate or not, for middle-class Ulster churchwomen this literature was reality.' She is also conscious that this feminized Christianity could be represented as a victory for female religious values over male ones, especially among the clergy. Her commendable attempt to transcend the differences between Catholicism...


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