Current Issue

Volume 50, Number 2, Summer 2018



More than a Conscious Feeling: Reading Evelina’s Mind in Time—Sarah Eron

This essay reconsiders the notion of novelistic bildung as more than a protagonist’s social maturation. Reading Frances Burney’s Evelina as a developmental account of the young heroine’s self-conscious faculties, it examines how novels rely on the work of conscious memory, and on temporal concepts of subjectivity, to account for human agency. Burney’s novel begins with Evelina’s emotional relationship to her surroundings; Volume I focuses predominantly on Evelina’s aesthetic reactions to the unfamiliar environment of London, delineating a paradigm of self-consciousness as embodied awareness. However, these moments of self-consciousness, akin to feelings of shame and mortification, prove fleeting and problematic in relationship to Evelina’s actions. It is only when Evelina reflects upon her experience with objects and others in time that she finally attains agency and independence of action. As Evelina’s thinking becomes less reactive and automatic, she gains an ability to survive and overcome situations that pose unremitting threats to her female virtue.

“Obliged to yield”: The Language of Patriarchy and the System of Mental Slavery in Mansfield Park—Christopher Stampone

This essay argues that a close reading of language in Mansfield Park—especially the words “duty,” “gratitude,” “obligation,” and “ought”—correlates patriarchy with mental slavery and marks Fanny Price as the text’s representative slave. Yet, to borrow a phrase from William Blake, the same linguistic “mind forg’d manacles” that enchain Fanny also constrict the rest of the characters in the romance. In Mansfield Park, no person is free. Ultimately, the essay contends that Austen’s romance unmasks patriarchy as an inescapable system of mental slavery, and it sheds light on the complexities and subtleties of language in this work as countless scholars have already done in Austen’s other novels, which, unsurprisingly, often foreground the thematic importance of specific words in their very titles.   

Lafcadio Hearn’s Chita and the Spanish-Speaking Americas—Emad Mirmotahari

This essay argues that Lafcadio Hearn’s novella Chita: Memory of Last Isle (1889) situates New Orleans and Louisiana’s coast as a part of the cultural world of the Gulf of Mexico and the rest of the Spanish-speaking Americas. Through its multi- and inter-lingual narrative, Chita highlights the historical cultural and linguistic diversity of New Orleans and Louisiana’s Gulf coast, placing emphasis on the French, Creole, and Spanish-speaking communities. But it is the Spanish language specifically that occupies an important figurative and discursive space in the novella, the language that is adopted by the novella’s eponymous character. Spanish is represented as the language best suited for reading the sea, the language of the divine, and the language of survival and adaptation. It is the language that connects the United States to the larger hemispheric community to which it belongs, and especially to the Spanish-speaking Gulf and wider Caribbean.

“This is not a parable”: Transformations of the Prodigal Son in Turgenev, Dostoevsky, and Coetzee—John Bolin

Since Watt, the novel’s eventual cultural predominance has often been read as inseparable from the ascendance of secularism and the demise of religious thought. The novel’s master-plot has thus naturally been understood as a historical one not unlike Lukács’s account of an individual becoming within a temporality without transcendence. Yet it is interesting that neither secular history nor what Girard called ‘transcendent presence that is free to abrogate becoming’ can account for the way some major novels generate multiple, fiercely oppositional meanings through a complex play with literary mode and narrative models of temporality. This essay reads some revisions of parable in modern Russian literature, and then Coetzee’s co-opting of that tradition in The Master of Petersburg, to consider how such fictions can complicate any boundary between the secular and the religious minds as they dramatize the search for a master-plot itself as a problem for the novel.

Chronotope in Moore and Gibbons’s Watchmen—Adnan Mahmutović

Following Cyril Camus’s argument that the category of “graphic novel” is defined by its particular use of literary chronotopes, the present paper reads Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen as a treasure trove of chronotopic arrangements. As a metafictional exploration of its own medium, Watchmen displays a plurality of chronotopes, which is not simply an effect of its postmodernism (Smethurst), but the inherent possibility of graphic narrative. Therefore, with the help of Watchmen, it is possible to both argue for an easy transfer of Bakhtinian theory to the field of comics studies, and highlight the ways in which the unique potential of the medium as such can help us repurpose the theory of the chronotope.

A Response to Addie Bundren: Restoring Generosity to the Language of Civil Discourse in Marilynne Robinson’s Lila—Erin Penner

Although critics echo Marilynne Robinson’s own preferences in highlighting similarities between her work and nineteenth-century American literature, doing so undercuts her attempts to revive contemporary public discourse by modeling dialogue across difference in her fiction.  Such conversations are a major theme in her novel Lila, in which an elderly pastor and young migrant worker articulate the old wounds and cultural assumptions that derail their conversations, and yet choose to marry and continue seeking understanding.  In Lila, Robinson also engages her immediate literary forebears in conversation, evoking William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying in order to resist the cynicism of his female protagonist.  Although Robinson fears that a similar cynicism dominates her own era, she puts forth, through her titular character, a revival of the “character of generosity” she deems essential for contemporary public life. 



BARKER, CLARE, and STUART MURRAY, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Disability. Reviewed by CLARE MULLANEY.

COMMANDER, MICHELLE. Afro-Atlantic Flight: Speculative Returns and the Black Fantastic. Reviewed by STACIE SELMON MCCORMICK.

FUNCHION, JOHN. Novel Nostalgias: The Aesthetics of Antagonism in Nineteenth-Century U.S. Literature. Reviewed by MATTHEW REBHORN.

GODWIN, WILLIAM. Mandeville. Ed. Tilottama Rajan. Reviewed by ALEXANDER DICK.

ILMONEN, KAISA. Queer Rebellion in the Novels of Michelle Cliff: Intersectionality and Sexual Modernity. Reviewed by MARY ZABORSKIS.

LEISE, CHRISTOPHER. The Story Upon a Hill: The Puritan Myth in Contemporary American FictionReviewed by ABRAM VAN ENGEN.



John Bolin’s first book is Beckett and the Modern Novel (Cambridge, 2013). He has recently published in the Review of English Studies, Novel: A Forum on Fiction, and Modernism/modernity. His first novel, Three Pioneers, is forthcoming with a…p Press. He is lecturer in English at University of Exeter.

Sarah Eron is associate professor of English at the University of Rhode Island. Her book, Inspiration in the Age of Enlightenment, appeared in 2014 with the University of Delaware Press. In addition to this work, she has published articles in Eighteenth-Century Novel, Blake, An Illustrated Quarterly, Victorian Poetry, and Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture. She is currently completing a second project on early novels and the alleviating powers of memory.

Adnan Mahmutović is a lecturer in English literature and creative writing at Stockholm University. His work includes Ways of Being Free (Rodopi, 2012), Thinner than a Hair (Cinnamon Press, 2010), and How to Fare Well and Stay Fair (Salt Publishing, 2012). He co-edited (with Ursini and Bramlett): Visions of the Future in Comics (McFarland Press, 2018) and Which Side Are You On: Worlds of Grant Morrison (ImageText, 2015).

Emad Mirmotahari received his doctorate in comparative literature from UCLA. He is currently associate professor of English at Duquesne University, where he teaches courses on world and postcolonial literature. His primary areas of research and teaching are African fiction and fiction from throughout the African diaspora. He is also interested in modern and contemporary Latin American fiction and translation studies.

Erin Penner is assistant professor of English at Asbury University, where she specializes in British and American modernism. She traces modern prose connections to the elegy in her book Woolf, Faulkner, and the Character of Mourning, forthcoming from the University of Virginia Press. Other projects include studies of African-American mourning and the lingering effects of trench talk after the First World War. 

Christopher Stampone is a postdoctoral fellow at Southern Methodist University, where he is completing a book on the Bildungsroman in America and Britain during the Romantic period. He also serves as a communications fellow for the Keats-Shelley Association of America. His work has recently appeared in Keats-Shelley Review, African American Review, Early American Literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne Review, and The Explicator