Thursday, September 5, 2013

Darwin's Bards: British and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution

By John Holmes

Newly available in paperback, Darwin’s Bards is the first comprehensive study of how poets have responded to the ideas of Charles Darwin in over fifty years. John Holmes argues that poetry can have a profound impact on how we think and feel about the Darwinian condition. Is a Darwinian universe necessarily a godless one? What is our own place in the Darwinian universe, and our ecological role here on Earth? How does our kinship with other animals affect how we see them and ourselves?

Holmes explores the ways in which some of the most perceptive and powerful British and American poets of the last hundred-and-fifty years have grappled with these questions, from Alfred Tennyson and Robert Browning, through Thomas Hardy and Robert Frost, to Ted Hughes, Thom Gunn, Amy Clampitt and Edwin Morgan. Including over fifty poems and substantial extracts from many more, Darwin’s Bards gives us the chance to experience for ourselves what it can mean to live in a Darwinian world.

“Darwin’s Bards is a bracing, original and exciting contribution to our understanding and appreciation of the cultural impact of Darwinism; indeed, John Holmes is to be commended for writing an exhilarating and genuinely interdisciplinary study with revealing insights on every page.” – Roger Ebbatson, The Thomas Hardy Journal

Available on Amazon and Edinburgh University Press

Moving Images: Nineteenth-Century Reading and Screen Practices (Edinburgh Critical Studies in Victorian Literature)

By Helen Groth

This book examines how the productive interplay between nineteenth-century literary and visual media paralleled the emergence of a modern psychological understanding of the ways in which reading, viewing and dreaming generate moving images in the mind. Reading between these parallel histories of mind and media reveals a dynamic conceptual, aesthetic and technological engagement with the moving image that, in turn, produces a new understanding of the production and circulation of the work of key nineteenth-century writers, such as Lord Byron, Walter Scott, Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray. As Helen Groth shows, this engagement is both typical of the nineteenth-century in its preoccupation with questions of automatism and volition (unconscious and conscious thought), spirit and materiality, art and machine, but also definitively modern in its secular articulation of the instructive and entertaining applications of making images move both inside and outside the mind.

Key Features
  • Considers the impact of the dramatic transformations in print and visual culture on our understanding of the production, circulation and mediation of works by Byron, Scott, Thackeray, Carroll, Dickens, Mayhew and James, as well as lesser-known writers such as Ann and Jane Taylor, Pierce Egan, Countess Blessington, and George Sims
  • Provides a new perspective on the conventional opposition of the early cinema of attractions to the immersive absorption of both nineteenth-century literary formations and later classical narrative cinema

Purchase on Amazon

William Maginn and the British Press: A Critical Biography

By David E. LatanĂ©,

The first scholarly treatment of the life of William Maginn (1794-1842), David LatanĂ©’s meticulously researched biography follows Maginn’s life from his early days in Ireland through his career in Paris and London as political journalist and writer and finally to his sad decline and incarceration in debtor’s prison. A founding editor of the daily Standard (1827), Maginn was a prodigal author and editor. He was an early and influential contributor to Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, and a writer from the Tory side for The Age, New Times, English Gentleman, Representative, John Bull, and many other papers. In 1830, he launched Fraser’s Magazine for Town and Country, the early venue for such Victorians as Thackeray and Carlyle, and he was intimately involved with the poet 'L.E.L.' In 1837, he wrote the prologue for the first issue of Bentley’s Miscellany, edited by Dickens. Through painstaking archival research into Maginn’s surviving letters and manuscripts, as well as those of his associates, LatanĂ© restores Maginn to his proper place in the history of nineteenth-century print culture. His book is essential reading for nineteenth-century scholars, historians of the book and periodical, and anyone interested in questions of authorship in the period.

Purchase at Ashgate

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Women, Infanticide and the Press, 1822–1922: News Narratives in England and Australia

By Nicola Goc

In her study of anonymous infanticide news stories that appeared from 1822 to 1922 in the heart of the British Empire, in regional Leicester, and in the penal colony of Australia, Nicola Goc uses Critical Discourse Analysis to reveal both the broader patterns and the particular rhetorical strategies journalists used to report on young women who killed their babies. Her study takes Foucault’s perspective that the production of knowledge, of 'facts' and truth claims, and the exercise of power, are inextricably connected to discourse. Newspaper discourses provide a way to investigate the discursive practices that brought the nineteenth-century infanticidal woman - known as ‘the Infanticide’ - into being. The actions of the infanticidal mother were understood as a fundamental threat to society, not only because they subverted the ideal of Victorian womanhood but also because a woman’s actions destroyed a man’s lineage. For these reasons, Goc demonstrates, infanticide narratives were politicised in the press and woven into interconnected narratives about the regulation of women, women's rights, the family, the law, welfare, and medicine that dominated nineteenth-century discourse. For example, the Times used individual stories of infanticide to argue against the Bastardy Clause in the Poor Law that denied unmarried women and their children relief. Infanticide narratives often adopted the conventions of the courtroom drama, with the young transgressive female positioned against a body of male authoritarian figures, a juxtaposition that reinforced male authority over women. Alive to the marked differences between various types of newspapers, Goc's study offers a rich and nuanced discussion of the Victorian press's fascination with infanticide. At the same time, infanticide news stories shaped how women who killed their babies were known and understood in ways that pathologised their actions. This, in turn, influenced medical, judicial, and welfare policies regarding the crime of infanticide and created an acceptable context for how society viewed these women. Alive to the marked differences between various types of newspapers, Goc's study offers a rich and nuanced discussion of the Victorian press's fascination with infanticide.

Purchase at Ashgate