Thursday, May 30, 2013

Henry James, Impressionism, and the Public

By Daniel Hannah

 Proposing a new approach to Jamesian aesthetics, Daniel Hannah examines the complicated relationship between Henry James's impressionism and his handling of 'the public.' Hannah challenges solely phenomenological or pictorial accounts of literary impressionism, instead foregrounding James's treatment of the word 'impression' as a mediatory unit that both resists and accommodates invasive publicity. Thus even as he envisages a breakdown between public and private at the end of the nineteenth century, James registers that breakdown not only as a threat but also as an opportunity for aesthetic gain. Beginning with a reading of 'The Art of Fiction' as both a public-forming essay and an aesthetic manifesto, Hannah's study examines James's responses to painterly impressionism and to aestheticism, and offers original readings of What Maisie Knew, The Wings of the Dove, and The American Scene that treat James's articulation of impressionism in relation to the child, the future of the novel, and shifts in the American national imaginary. Hannah's study persuasively argues that throughout his career James returns to impressionability not only as a site of immense vulnerability in an age of rapid change but also as a crucible for reshaping, challenging, and adapting to the public sphere’s shifting forms.

'Focusing on the tendency in Impressionism to trouble distinctions between the public and the private, Daniel Hannah’s sophisticated and compelling book opens up broad new views of much that makes Henry James’s writing meaningful and much that has yet to be seen in the problem of Impressionism.'
--Jesse E. Matz, Kenyon College, USA

Purchase from Ashgate

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Women’s Ghost Literature in Nineteenth-Century Britain

By Melissa Edmundson Makala

Throughout nineteenth-century Britain, female writers excelled within the genre of supernatural literature. Much of their short fiction and poetry uses ghosts as figures to symbolize the problems of gender, class, economics, and imperialism, thus making their supernatural literature something more than just a good scare. Nineteenth-century ghost literature by women shows the Gothic becoming more experimental and subversive as its writers abandoned the stereotypical Gothic heroines of the past in order to create more realistic, middle-class characters (both living and dead, male and female) who rage against the limits imposed on them by the natural world. The ghosts of Female Gothic thereby become reflections of the social, sexual, economic, and racial troubles of the living. Expanding the parameters of Female Gothic and moving it into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries allows us to recognize women’s ghost literature as a specific strain of the Female Gothic that began not with Ann Radcliffe, but with the Romantic Gothic ballads of women in the first decade of the nineteenth century. Women’s Ghost Literature in Nineteenth-Century Britain recovers and analyzes for a new audience this “social supernatural” ghost literature, as well as the lives and literary careers of the women who wrote it.

“This groundbreaking study makes a persuasive case that nineteenth-century women authors wrote ghosts into their fiction and poetry not just in order to entertain but also as a vehicle for social criticism. Through the figure of the ghost, they drew attention to religious, gender, and class-based inequality within British society, and to the human costs of empire and the industrial revolution.”
– Paula Feldman, University of South Carolina

University of Wales Press
Purchase from Amazon or Chicago UP .

Friday, May 17, 2013

Transatlantic Spectacles of Race: The Tragic Mulatta and the Tragic Muse

By Kimberly Snyder Manganelli 
The tragic mulatta was a stock figure in nineteenth-century American literature, an attractive mixed-race woman who became a casualty of the color line. The tragic muse was an equally familiar figure in Victorian British culture, an exotic and alluring Jewish actress whose profession placed her alongside the “fallen woman.”

In Transatlantic Spectacles of Race, Kimberly Manganelli argues that the tragic mulatta and tragic muse, who have heretofore been read separately, must be understood as two sides of the same phenomenon. In both cases, the eroticized and racialized female body is put on public display, as a highly enticing commodity in the nineteenth-century marketplace. Tracing these figures through American, British, and French literature and culture, Manganelli constructs a host of surprising literary genealogies, from Zelica to Daniel Deronda, from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Lady Audley’s Secret. Bringing together an impressive array of cultural texts that includes novels, melodramas, travel narratives, diaries, and illustrations, Transatlantic Spectacles of Race reveals the value of transcending literary, national, and racial boundaries.

"An engaging, rich, and provocative work that re-directs 'mixed-race' studies back to its complex archival and historical roots, Manganelli’s book challenges readers to consider the deeply imbricated, transnational production of 19th century racial and gender mythologies."
—Daphne Brooks, Princeton University

"Manganelli's clear, engaging writing will captivate readers of nineteenth and early twentieth-century British and American literature. This book provides a powerful and lucid model for scholars and students interested in transatlantic work."
—Cherene Sherrard-Johnson, author of Portraits of the New Negro Woman

Purchase at Amazon.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

19: Interdisciplinary Studies In The Long Nineteenth Century 16 (2013): W. T. Stead: Newspaper Revolutionary

Guest edited by  Laurel Brake and James Mussell

When W. T. Stead died on the Titanic he was the most famous Englishman on board. He was one of the inventors of the modern tabloid. His advocacy of ‘government by journalism’ helped launch military campaigns. His exposé of child prostitution raised the age of consent to sixteen, yet his investigative journalism got him thrown in jail. A mass of contradictions and a crucial figure in the history of the British press, Stead was a towering presence in the cultural life of late-Victorian and Edwardian society. This special issue of 19, guest edited by Laurel Brake and James Mussell, celebrates Stead’s life and legacy in all its diversity 101 years on. 
  • Laurel Brake, James Mussell: ‘Introduction’
  • Graham Law, Matthew Sterenberg: ‘Old v. New Journalism and the Public Sphere; or, Habermas Encounters Dallas and Stead’
  • Lucy Delap, Maria DiCenzo: ‘“No one pretends he was faultless”: W. T. Stead and the Women’s Movement’
  • Stéphanie Prévost: ‘W. T. Stead and the Eastern Question (1875-1911); or, How to Rouse England and Why?’
  • Tom Lockwood: ‘W. T. Stead’s ‘Penny Poets’: Beyond Baylen’
  • Paul Horn: ‘“Two Minds With but a Single Thought”: W. T. Stead, Henry James, and the Zancig Controversy’
  • Sarah Crofton: ‘“Julia Says”: The Spirit-Writing and Editorial Mediumship of W. T. Stead’
  • Marysa Demoor: ‘When the King Becomes your Personal Enemy: W. T. Stead, King Leopold II, and the Congo Free State’
  • Tom Gretton: ‘From La Méduse to the Titanic: Géricault’s Raft in Journalistic Illustration up to 1912
The new issue of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century is now available at

A Feminist Reader: Feminist Thought from Sappho to Satrapi, 4 vol.

Edited by Sharon M. Harris and Linda K. Hughes

Deliberately global in scope, this 1900-page edited anthology places feminist writing by Anglo-American authors in dialogue with French, German, Italian, Mexican, Brazilian, African, Japanese, Egyptian, Indian, Australian, and Iranian feminist writings.  It also features multiple genres, such as letters and poems in addition to essays, dialogues, manifestas, and a concluding excerpt from a graphic novel, opening new possibilities for the study of genre and feminist discourse.  Each text features an editorial headnote and annotation, while the general introduction sets feminism in its historical and global contexts.

The Victorian writers represented in the collection include Caroline Norton, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Florence Nightingale, Mary Seacole, John Stuart Mill, Helen Taylor, Emily Davies, Frances Power Cobbe, Josephine Butler, Sophia Jex-Blake, Augusta Webster, Edith Simcox, Mona Caird, Amy Levy, Olive Schreiner, Dollie Radford, Sarah Grand, Nora Hopper, Alice Meynell, Vernon Lee, and Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy.

Purchase from Amazon or Cambridge UP.