Criticism

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Criticism
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Criticism
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Criticism

Teaching Jane Austen’s (Digitized) Manuscripts

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April, 2015

This essay explores how digital and print editions of Jane Austen’s manuscript writing may be profitably integrated in upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses. In particular, it examines how the digital collection Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts can be used by students to (1) understand Austen’s material practices of writing and sharing her fiction, and the different audiences she anticipated in script and print; (2) study her development as a writer, through comparison and analysis of her fiction manuscripts, which represent her writing at every stage of her career; (3) survey the differences between script, print, and digital media, and critically examine how we interact with them; and (4) evaluate different theories of textuality and editorial practice.

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Teaching Jane Austen and the Literature of Love Advice

Date published: 

April, 2015

This essay describes a freshman seminar called “Advice about Love and the Literary Narrator.” After touching on Pride and Prejudice’s opening sentence and some consequences of the belief that one can take advice from a fiction or its narrator, I track a version of the course that moves from Ovid’s Amores to Capellanus’s courtly love treatise, Cervantes’s Don Quixote, and the proposal scenes of the eighteenth-century novel. I conclude by showing how a proposal scene in Emma illuminates earlier models of advising.

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Colonel Snape’s Veritaserum: Teaching Jane Austen in a Harry Potter World

Date published: 

April, 2015

As part of a fall 2011 honors seminar on Jane and the Austenites, my students analyzed various cinematic adapations of Austen's novels. When they viewed a clip involving Alan Rickman, who played Colonel Brandon in Ang Lee's production of Sense and Sensibility (1995), they immediately linked the actor to his role as Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films. This essay examines how students utilized their knowledge of the Harry Potter series and films as a gateway for a close reading of Sense and Sensibility. Their understanding and affinity for Snape provided a blueprint for unlocking Colonel Brandon's emotions, motives, and the way he conducts himself in tension-filled situations.

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Teaching Jane Austen and the Male Romantic Poets

Date published: 

April, 2015

Throughout the nineteenth and most of the twentieth century, Jane Austen was not treated—in published criticism or in the classroom—in relation to the major male Romantic poets or thought to participate in the period’s defining events and concerns, either political or literary. Although these attitudes have begun to change, most scholarship on Austen still treats her either in isolation or in relation to other women writers, and many instructors report that they have trouble integrating Austen in Romantic period courses. My essay argues that Austen’s novels share many characteristics with Romantic-era poems and can be taught alongside these in a way that enhances our understanding of Romanticism. Similarities in the works of Austen and the male poets include an embrace of individualism; a shift from external events to the inner life as a focus of literature; a fascination with brother-sister incest; an emphasis on commonplace people and settings; conflicts between the attractions of romance and reality; a celebration of the sympathetic imagination and awareness of the dangers of solipsism and visionary flight; and a love of the natural world.

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Material Excursions

“Material Excursions” teases two questions. How does the general mobility and flexibility of late capitalism, increased—if not inaugurated—by cloud computing, leave material traces? And, given romantic poetry's preoccupation with clouds, how does romantic poetry, specifically the poetry of William Wordsworth, help us to think the material traces of cloud computing and the knowledge economy differently? The essay draws from the accidental convergence of Apple’s rhetoric surrounding iCloud and Wordsworth’s “I wandered lonely as a cloud.”
February 2015

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The Matter of Fictitious Capital

Though Karl Marx stands an irrefutable and even obligatory touchstone in most trajectories of materialism, his historical materialist analysis of capital proceeds by way of a number of formulations that subsequent Marxists would, and do, critique as idealist: conceiving labor as a differential substance that “is more than it has” and that marks the human’s distinction from animals (or, at least, from “bees” as the example goes) by virtue of its ineluctably ideational aspect; conceiving capital as “illusory, but (with) its own laws of motion for all that”; conceiving value as “in reality impossible”; and conceiving capitalism as a mode of production that is simultaneously a metaphysical system. As our present financial crisis has prompted various returns to Marx, particularly to his theory of fictitious capital, this entwining of the material and the ideal once again demands critical attention. This paper focuses on a few signal moments when thinking capitalism requires a materialism merged with its other – moments when it is a necessity, rather than a weakness, for Marxian materialism to have been something more multifaceted than we epigones generally avow.
February 2015

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What Wordsworth Touched

This paper explores the occasion of Wordsworth’s retrospective commentary on his poetry as recorded by Elizabeth Fenwick in notes take at Rydal Mount in 1843. Focusing on the aging poet turning the pages of the book he holds in his hand as he reads and recalls writing his poems, the argument considers touch as a form of mediation that in bringing the subject into relation with the object also brings him into relation with his own material being. Wordsworth’s retrospective project reminds us that such materiality is an inevitable if also a fragile and changing condition of making poets as well as poems.
February 2015

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Romantic Materialities, or 'This is not a Thing'

This essay, an introduction to the collection "Romantic Materialities, or 'This is not a Thing," provides an overview of the essays included in the issue in the context of historic and recent accounts of the place of things in Romanticism, showing how a Romantic account of things helps to situate contemporary theory, from Deconstruction to Thing Theory to Object Oriented Ontology.
February 2015

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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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