Reflections on Sentiment: Essays in Honor of George Starr ed. by Alessa Johns (review)
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Reflections on Sentiment: Essays in Honor of George Starr, ed. Alessa Johns Newark: University of Delaware Press; Rowman & Littlefield, 2016. viii+261pp. US$75. ISBN 978-1-61149-588-1.

This festschrift honours the academic career of George Starr, who is currently a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Starr has published two monographs, Defoe and Spiritual Autobiography (1965) and Defoe and Casuistry (1971), and a number of articles that have made significant contributions to the study of Daniel Defoe and sentimental literature. As Johns points out in her introduction, during his career of more than fifty years, Starr has done much to "elucidate the role of sentimentalism in what was once reductively termed an age of reason and realism" (1). This collection of essays aims to demonstrate not only the scope and depth of his work but also its continuing influence on the field. For the most part, the essays in this collection, some of which engage more directly with Starr's scholarship than others, achieve this goal. The [End Page 680] topics in the nine essays are wide-ranging and take a number of critical approaches, including affect theory, animal studies, and gender theory.

The collection is divided topically into three sections. Part 1, "Sympathetic Identification and Narrative Sociality," is a trio of essays, and each shares a broad interest in how the sensation and feeling of the individual engages in or relates to social ties and social meanings. The first essay, Alison Conway's "Defoe and the Challenge of Mixed Marriage," responds directly to Starr's scholarship on Defoe, his courtship texts, and conduct manuals, while also providing a broad range of other primary materials and meticulously researched historical background. While the focus of this essay is religious and familial sociability and the controversy of mixed religion marriages during the Enlightenment, the final note about "the sociability of communication itself that comes to stand for the habits of mind required for mutual recognition" serves both as an appropriate introduction to the rest of the collection and as an evaluative measure for the book as a whole (24). It reminds us that this book is as much a tribute to the collaborative nature of intellectual communities as it is a tribute to Starr and his scholarship. Looking at the broad questions Conway's essay raises about toleration and cooperation, it seems natural to ask how the essays in a book about sentiment and sociability succeed in conversing and communicating with each other. Thus, in assessing Reflections on Sentiment, I have settled on this set of criteria: how well do these essays speak to common concerns within the field of literary studies? How much do these essays complement and resonate with one another? Finally, how do these inter-essay conversations enhance an audience's experience of reading this collection?

If Conway's essay draws attention to the sociability of intellectual life, Joanna Picciotto's essay reminds us of its pedagogical nature, paying special tribute to the ways in which Starr's typological analysis of Defoe's earthenware pot has played a role in her own classroom. "Circumstantial Particulars, Particular Individuals, and Defoe" is one of several essays in the collections that attest to Starr's generosity as an instructor and mentor. This essay also rounds out Conway's interest in religious, historical, and narratological interpretation of Defoe's work by focusing not on conduct manuals but on his novels. Both essays share a concern for the controversy surrounding experiences of belief, the shared human experience of faith, and the relationship between God and the individual.

James P. Carson's essay on "The Sentimental Animal" stands thematically apart from the first two essays in this section, departing from Defoe and expanding the narrative of sentimental sociability to the animal world. Like its companions, one of the greatest strengths of this essay is its emphasis on historical context. Carson charts the history of animal [End Page 681] rights and anthropomorphic feeling in everything from Immanuel Kant to children's literature. "The Sentimental Animal" responds in compelling ways to scholarship's recent interest in animal studies and works well as a survey of eighteenth-century animal...