Monday, March 24, 2014

Outlaw Fathers in Victorian and Modern British Literature: Queering Patriarchy


By Helena Gurfinkel

“…[A] considerable work of scholarship…Outlaw Fathers in Victorian and Modern British Literature: Queering Patriarchy represents an admirable attempt to undertake a dialogue with psychoanalysis around issues of patriarchy and maleness…illuminate[s] aspects of the Victorian novel (and its historical struggle with class and gender) and of psychoanalytic theory (to some extent another reaction to the same historical forces) and argue[s] against any essentialist reduction of the multilevel realities within each to rigid forms and precepts.” –Lewis Allen Kirshner, clinical professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Outlaw Fathers delights by shattering paradigms. Employing the negative Oedipus complex, Gurfinkel challenges our easy definition of patriarchy by uncovering the queer patriarchy of queer fathers and sons [and] enlarges the category of the marriage plot by adding to the heteronormative definition a canon of queer marriage plots from Anthony Trollope through Samuel Butler to Alan Hollinghurst. This severing of masculinity from aggression and toward nurturing is especially valuable as we see the rise of gay marriage and gay parenting.” –Herbert Sussman, emeritus professor of English at Northeastern University

“In Outlaw Fathers, Helena Gurfinkel is doing subtly audacious work at the intersection of queer theory and Victorian and modernist studies. In a series of lucidly argued readings of important nineteenth- and twentieth-century British texts, she shows how they elaborate, against the dominant narratives of the Oedipus complex and the marriage plot, the queerer narratives of the negative Oedipus complex and the father-son marriage plot. But she does not just reveal this literary counter-tradition: against a certain hostility toward Freud in Foucauldian queer theory, she contributes incisively and elegantly to a theoretical counter-tradition that, seeing Freud himself as an outlaw father, realizes the queer possibilities of psychoanalysis.” –Joseph Litvak, professor and chair of the Department of English at Tufts University


Published by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. Available for pre-order from rowman.com

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Denotatively, Technically, Literally Spec. issue of Representations 125 (Winter 2014)


Edited by Elaine Freedgood and Cannon Schmitt

Denotative, literal, and technical language—apparently transparent and lacking in resonance—seems to be the opposite of literary language. A vigorous reading of the former, this special issue of Representations argues, should seek to realize its opacity and difficulty, its nonidentity with itself. To do so requires a revised and expanded sense of denotation, a rethinking of reference, the dereification of writing, an appeal to more expansive and heterodox archives, a historicism that forestalls or delays the figural, and more reading. Unlike recent literary critical attempts to restrict the field of reading, the practices sketched here seek to remove all limits to that which can be read, researched, and made into meaning. Contributors include Freedgood and Schmitt as well as Rachel Sagner Buurma, Margaret Cohen, Ian Duncan, and Laura Heffernan.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend: A Publishing History


By Sean Grass

Even within the context of Charles Dickens's history as a publishing innovator, Our Mutual Friend is notable for what it reveals about Dickens as an author and about Victorian publishing. Marking Dickens's return to the monthly number format after nearly a decade of writing fiction designed for weekly publication in All the Year Round, Our Mutual Friend emerged against the backdrop of his failing health, troubled relationship with Ellen Ternan, and declining reputation among contemporary critics. In his subtly argued publishing history, Sean Grass shows how these difficulties combined to make Our Mutual Friend an extraordinarily odd novel, no less in its contents and unusually heavy revisions than in its marketing by Chapman and Hall, its transformation from a serial into British and U.S. book editions, its contemporary reception by readers and reviewers, and its delightfully uneven reputation among critics in the 150 years since Dickens’s death.

Enhanced by four appendices that offer contemporary accounts of the Staplehurst railway accident, information on archival materials, transcripts of all of the contemporary reviews, and a select bibliography of editions, Grass’s book shows why this last of Dickens’s finished novels continues to intrigue its readers and critics.

“This book represents an impressive scholarly achievement and will be the authoritative critical work on the novel for years to come. The background, reception, textual history and afterlives of this most sophisticated of Dickens novels are analyzed with both rigor and gusto. An appendix reprinting all known reviews of the text is indispensable. Our Mutual Friend and its fortunes are brought alive in these pages with devotion and detail; Grass has done a great service to Dickens's last finished novel and to Dickens studies more generally.”--Juliet John, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK and author of Dickens and Mass Culture

Available from Ashgate

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Publisher's Paradise: Expatriate Literary Culture in Paris, 1890-1960


By Collette Colligan

From 1890 to 1960, some of Anglo-America’s most heated cultural contests over books, sex, and censorship were staged not at home, but abroad in the City of Light. Paris, with its extraordinary liberties of expression, became a special place for interrogating the margins of sexual culture and literary censorship, and a wide variety of English language “dirty books” circulated through loose expatriate publishing and distribution networks.

A Publisher’s Paradise explores the political and literary dynamics that gave rise to this expatriate cultural flourishing, which included everything from Victorian pornography to the most daring and controversial modernist classics. Colette Colligan tracks the British and French politicians and diplomats who policed Paris editions of banned books and uncovers offshore networks of publishers, booksellers, authors, and readers. She looks closely at the stories the “dirty books” told about this publishing haven and the smut peddlers and literary giants it brought together in transnational cultural formations. The book profiles an eclectic group of expatriates living and publishing in Paris, from relatively obscure figures such as Charles Carrington, whose list included both The Picture of Dorian Gray and the pornographic novel Randiana, to bookshop owner Sylvia Beach, famous for publishing James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922.

A Publisher’s Paradise is a compelling exploration of the little-known history of foreign pornography in Paris and the central role it played in turning the city into a modernist outpost for literary and sexual vanguardism, a reputation that still lingers today in our cultural myths of midnight in Paris.

"With creative researching techniques, wit, and skill, Colligan brings to life the little known, understudied world of booklegging and book laundering, based in the French capital, but central to the development of Anglo-American modernist writing at large. A Publisher’s Paradise makes a significant scholarly contribution by taking ‘dirty books’ seriously and showing their significance to larger political and cultural conflicts, and by connecting dots that others have not connected."—Brooke Blower, author of Becoming Americans in Paris: Transatlantic Politics and Culture between the World Wars

This book is regularly available through University of MassachusettsPress. However, the University of MassachusettsPress is offering a special discount for the new year.  Please use promo code S545 when ordering directly through UMass Press to receive a New Year Special Discount of 30% now through the end of February.

Representing the National Landscape in Irish Romanticism


By Julia M. Wright

Ireland as a nation has come to be defined in part by an ideology which conflates national identity with the land. From the Irish Revival’s idealization of Irish peasants close to the land to the long history of disputes over ownership and rule of the land, notions of the land have become particularly bound up with conceptions of what Ireland is and what it is to be Irish. In this book, Wright considers this fraught relationship between land and national identity in Irish literature. In doing so, she presents a new vision of the Irish national landscape as one that is vitally connected to larger geographical spheres. By exploring issues of globalization, international radicalism, trade routes, and the export of natural resources, Wright is at the cutting edge of modern global scholarly trends and concerns. In considering texts from the Romantic era such as Leslie’s Killarney, Edgeworth’s "Limerick Gloves," and Moore’s Irish Melodies, Wright undercuts the nationalist myth of a "people of the soil" and explores instead nationalist ideas of an international Ireland. Reigniting the field of Irish Romanticism, Wright presents original readings which call into question politically motivated mythologies while energizing nationalist conceptions that reflect transnational networks and mobility.

"A major contribution to Irish literary and intellectual history. Wright’s astute and incisive analysis presents original perspectives on Irish literary history, reveals significant new tropes and connections within and beyond Irish literary tradition, traces the textual genealogies of iconic sites like Glendalough and Killarney, and explores neglected works by and interconnections among writers such as Charlotte Brooke, William Drennan, William Preston, Thomas Moore, Alicia Lefanu, John and Michael Banim, Lady Morgan, Denis Florence MacCarthy, and lesser known writers."—Mary Helen Thuente, author of The Harp Re-Strung: The United Irishmen and the Rise of Irish Literary Nationalism


"The book combines incredible archival research with theoretical nous. It deals with many texts that have not been substantially written about before, and draws fascinating links between texts previously not fully noticed."—James Kelly, editor of Ireland and Romanticism: Publics, Nations, and Scenes of Cultural Production

Available through Syracuse University Press

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Reform Acts: Chartism, Social Agency, and the Victorian Novel, 1832–1867


By Chris R. Vanden Bossche

Reform Acts offers a new approach to prominent questions raised in recent studies of the novel. By examining social agency from a historical rather than theoretical perspective, Chris R. Vanden Bossche investigates how particular assumptions involving agency came into being. Through readings of both canonical and noncanonical Victorian literature, he demonstrates that the Victorian tension between reform and revolution framed conceptions of agency in ways that persist in our own time.

Vanden Bossche argues that Victorian novels sought to imagine new forms of social agency evolving from Chartism, the dominant working-class movement of the time. Novelists envisioned alternative forms of social agency by employing contemporary discourses from Chartism's focus on suffrage as well as the means through which it sought to obtain it, such as moral versus physical force, land reform, and the cooperative movement.

Each of the three parts of Reform Acts begins with a chapter that analyzes contemporary conversations and debates about social agency in the press and in political debate. Succeeding chapters examine how novels envision ways of effecting social change, for example, class alliance in Barnaby Rudge; landed estates as well as finely graded hierarchy and politicians inConingsby and Sybil; and reforming trade unionism in Mary Barton andNorth and South. By including novels written from a range of political perspectives, Vanden Bossche discovers patterns in Victorian thinking that are easily recognized in today's assumptions about social hierarchy.


"At once boldly revisionist and meticulously argued, Reform Acts re-orients our approach to class politics and ideological criticism. Asking how the Victorians themselves understood the concept of agency, Vanden Bossche traces dynamic interchanges among class antagonists across multiple genres to delineate the shape of social change in the nineteenth century."—Ellen Rosenman, University of Kentucky


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Habit in the English Novel, 1850-1900: Lived Environments, Practices of the Self



By Sean O'Toole


The ancient philosophical concept of habit fixated and unsettled the Victorians in profoundly new ways, as advances in physiology and evolutionary theory sparked far-reaching debates about the threat of automatism and the proper mental training of the will. This book suggests that nineteenth-century novelists not only echoed these debates but intervened in them in unique, transformative, and strikingly modern ways. In attending closely to the enabling, generative potential of habit and its role in the creation of new perceptions and social identities, novelists from Dickens to James bequeathed a far more complex conception of the category than has yet been acknowledged, allowing for a rich phenomenology of the unpredictable, changeable modes of modern existence. Habit in the English Novel rethinks the relationship between nineteenth-century fiction and sciences of the mind, and reconsiders what we have come to assume about the Victorian novel, including our own critical habits, in the wake of Freud and cultural modernism.

"This fascinating study explores how changing attitudes to habit in the latter part of the nineteenth century had profound fictional and theoretical implications. Habit in the English Novel, 1850-1900 includes some striking and original analysis of nineteenth-century literature, and alerts us to the complexity and profound significance of an apparently ordinary and ubiquitous human trait. This is an important book, which raises key questions about the relationship between literature and psychology, and casts new light on familiar material."--Jenny Bourne Taylor, University of Sussex, UK


Available for purchase from Amazon or Palgrave.