Criticism

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Criticism
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Criticism
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Criticism

Killing What Is Already Dead: 'Original Materialism,' Translation, and Romanticism after de Man

This article adresses Paul de Man's critique of translation in the context of his later writings on aesthetic ideology and materiality. By restoring de Man's essay on Walter Benjamin to its original context of the 1983 Messenger Lectures, it elicits from these later writings a concept of translation that might be of particular relevance for a closer investigation of the interplay between translation and aesthetic theory in the writings of Coleridge and Carlyle.
February 2015

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Literary Immanence

This essay considers the problem of materialism in literature from the perspective of linguistic empiricism. It takes as a its point of departure Paul de Man's treatment of linguistic materiality to argue that a specifically literary description of agency ought to take into account the event of literature as such. It then turns to Gilles Deleuze's formulation of immanence to offer a reading of a key scene in Dicken's Our Mutual Friend that illustrates how literature stages its coming-alive.
February 2015

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Radcliffe's Materiality

This article examines Radcliffe's writing as a phenomenon of continuous material surfaces and folds. Radcliffe's Gothic narratives can be seen as assemblages that generate transpersonal affects and intensities. Their conservatism can be seen in how they conceive of agency as a force that arrests or works against the constant movement inherent in materiality.
February 2015

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Teaching Jane Austen

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April, 2015
The essays collected here describe curricular ideas, innovations, and practices that seek to move us beyond simple questions of Austen’s accessibility, relevance, and context. The contributors ask how we might enrich the teaching of Austen’s fiction by seeing her in conversation with manuscript culture, children’s literature, Harry Potter, or Romantic poetry. Collectively, these essays look to what it means to teach Austen in many kinds of classes and classrooms, with differently located learners and with a variety of texts, tools, and assignments.

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On His Knees: Stendhal, Byron, and a Hundred Irresistible Impulses

This essay investigates how the concept of fandom might make sense of a reading practice that emerged in the romantic period, the practice of visiting places associated with authors and their works in order to re-read their works in situ. Focussing on Lady Frances Shelley as a typical romantic literary tourist, the essay considers the ways in which she (and by extension others) produced new constructions of reading and the reader in response to the emergent figure of the romantic author. Shelley's various accounts of visiting romantic locales associated with Rousseau, Scott and Byron not only provides a conspectus of possible tourist-stances and practices but suggests that romantic readers strove to represent themselves on a footing not only of intimacy but of social equality with the author, re-establishing a sense of a coterie audience in the face of the realities of an increasingly heterogenous mass reading public.

April 2011

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Byron in the Satirist: Aristocratic Lounging and Literary Labor

This article analyzes the complex political and cultural rhetorics through which the journal Satirist refracts the figure of Byron in its reviews, its social satire, and its verbal and visual parodies, starting with its 1807 review of Byron’s Hours of Idleness. Animating this interaction in large part is the personal animus between Byron and the Satirist writer Hewson Clarke, who was at Cambridge with Byron and for whom Byron represented not only a rival but the (frustrating) epitome of aristocratic privilege, a privilege Clarke and The Satirist will target in attacks on what they brand Whiggish indolence. Schoenfield demonstrates how even at this early stage in Byron’s career, the Satirist’s attacks function to deflate, by redeploying, Byron’s figuration of his own fame, reflecting back to the poet and his audience “the fragility of his public self.” The journal thus influentially produces “a competing version of Byronic celebrity to that produced by Byron.”

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Romantic Fandom: Introduction

Romantic-era audiences participated enthusiastically in what we would now recognize as fan practices and fan cultures. In his introduction to this volume, Eisner proposes an understanding of fandom as a culturally situated, qualitatively distinctive, and complexly mediated form of audience response, arguing that fandom rewards analysis as a historical phenomenon in its own right and not simply as a register of the celebrity of the objects of fan interest. Pointing out the ways in which the volume’s essays frame the topic of fandom as a provocation to methodological innovation, Eisner’s introduction locates the volume’s approach to fandom in relation to recent scholarship in Romantic studies and cultural studies, and in contradistinction to more traditional studies of reception. The introduction argues that the volume’s essays deepen our understanding of Romanticism’s publics as socially heterogeneous, inventive, and unpredictable, shaped by and shaping rapidly changing institutions of performance, publication, reading, spectatorship, leisure and consumption. By mapping the complicated social dynamics informing the activity of particular fans, the essays in this volume demonstrate both the diversity of Romantic fan practices and the historical particularity of the forms Romantic fandom takes. While these essays contest literary criticism’s often habitual abjection of the fan, Eisner emphasizes that they also resist conflating Romantic fandom with our own.

April 2011

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Fandom Mapped: Rousseau, Scott, and Byron on the Itinerary of Lady Frances Shelley

This essay investigates how the concept of fandom might make sense of a reading practice that emerged in the romantic period, the practice of visiting places associated with authors and their works in order to re-read their works in situ. Focussing on Lady Frances Shelley as a typical romantic literary tourist, the essay considers the ways in which she (and by extension others) produced new constructions of reading and the reader in response to the emergent figure of the romantic author. Shelley's various accounts of visiting romantic locales associated with Rousseau, Scott, and Byron not only provides a conspectus of possible tourist-stances and practices but suggests that romantic readers strove to represent themselves on a footing not only of intimacy but of social equality with the author, re-establishing a sense of a coterie audience in the face of the realities of an increasingly heterogenous mass reading public.

April 2011

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The Moment of Tom and Jerry ('when fistycuffs were the fashion')

The early 1820s craze for Pierce Egan's and Robert and George Cruikshank's Life in London has long seemed both deeply puzzling and yet somehow emblematic of its age. Brewer proposes that the mania becomes far more explicable if we focus, in a very precise way, on the interplay between serial publication, the so-called "illegitimate" theater, and the geography of London, especially insofar as those relations, in turn, line up with the peculiar and rapidly shifting reputation and mood of the metropolis in these years. By carefully mapping out Life in London part by monthly part, and dramatic adaptation by dramatic adaptation, we can both recover the underlying aesthetics of the craze (which revolved around questions of the adequacy of representation) and further theorize what Franco Moretti has termed the "profoundly social aspect[s]" of form: the ways in which the forms of individual texts are not only shaped by forces beyond their bounds and beyond their control, but also how the significance of those individual forms largely emerges from their perceived relations with one another. In short, by slowing down and zeroing in upon the very particular qualities of "the Moment of Tom and Jerry," we can begin to think in new ways about how literature works in the world more generally.

April 2011

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