Broad, Jacqueline. “Mary Astell’s Critique of Pierre Bayle: Atheism and Intellectual Integrity in the Pensées (1682).” British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 2018, pp. 1–18. Jacqueline Broad uses Mary Astell’s marginalia in Lady Mary Wortley Montague’s 1704 edition of Pierre Bayle’s Pensées diverses sur le comète (originally published in 1682) to substantiate her claim that Bayle supported atheism in his work. Scholars previously have referred to him as a French Protestant. Astell’s comments, Broad shows, provide reasons for thinking that Bayle was an “Academic Sceptic.” Broad describes how Astell points to instances where Bayle undermines Protestantism in his text, and Broad also explains why Bayle’s religious impartiality affected his goal of intellectual integrity.
Evans, Mel. “Style and Chronology: A Stylometric Investigation of Aphra Behn’s dramatic Style and the Dating of The Young King.” Language and Literature, vol. 27, no. 2, 2018, pp. 103–132. Mel Evans evaluates Aphra Behn’s change in her writing style through the course of her career by focusing primarily upon Behn’s tragi-comedy, The Young King. Evans points to several things that may have prompted the change in her writing, but they all have one factor in common: a shift in genre from comedy to tragedy. Evans uses three lexical features—1) most frequent words in a dataset, 2) most frequent function words in a dataset, and 3) mid-frequent words, or zeta words—to calculate the continuities and differences across all sixteen of her plays, finding through the stylochronometric data that Behn’s changes to authorial style were likely perceptible to contemporary Restoration audiences. Thus, the analysis also suggests that Behn revised or wrote The Young King later than usually thought, based on the clear differences between Behn’s early and late writing styles.
Gilbert, Nora. “‘Impatient to be Gone’: Aphra Behn’s Vindication of the Flights of Woman.” Eighteenth-Century Life, vol. 42, no. 1, 2018, pp. 1–27. Nora Gilbert interrogates the intersection of female mobility and female transgression in Aphra Behn’s early novels. Runaway, rebellious female characters are a way, Gilbert argues, for Behn to challenge her own personal limitations. This article posits Behn’s connection to the women’s rights movement through politically allegorical readings of her works, specifically Love-Letters, The Rover, and The History of the Nun. The women in these texts are almost always portrayed as sympathetic, while the characters who punish them are viewed as oppressive and immoral: “This, to my mind, connotes feminism” (21).
Mitsein, Rebekah. “Trans-Saharan Worlds and World Views in Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction, vol. 30, no. 3, 2018, pp. 339–368. Rebekah Mitsein examines Aphra Behn’s Coramantien for traces of the geographical trade routes of Africa represented in Oroonoko. Mitsein illustrates how the narrator’s knowledge of Africa was only through second-hand accounts, which are partially imagined, but also substantiated through evidence of the English’s historical trade routes with trans-Saharan merchants. African perspectives also make their way into the text by the way of visitors: the English would bring people from Africa to England in order to educate them, Christianize them, and learn about their countries before returning them to Africa (352), and these visitors would tell stories of their country to the English. According to Mitsein, Africans who traded with the English encouraged stories about Africa as a means to perpetuate and romanticize trade. But it wasn’t just foodstuffs and cloth that they traded; Oroonoko and his grandfather the king also trade captives as slaves, a plot detail that reflects historical practice. Mitsein astutely concludes by suggesting that we should understand Oroonoko not only as a narrator’s (re)mediated sources, but also as a way to see how global representations of Africa converge and shape English texts.
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