Recent Issue

Volume 49, Number 4, Winter 2017

 

Editor's NoteNora Gilbert

 

Articles

How Not to Improve the Estate: Lopping & Cropping Jane AustenSydney Miller

This essay reads Quirk Classics’ monstrous mash-ups, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, as deliberately excessive and unnatural alterations that speak to a preoccupation with improvement that is both thematized within Austen’s own work and symptomatic of Austenmania’s broader project of renovating the literary landscape that is Jane Austen’s estate. While the mash-up enterprise is, no doubt, an exercise in making Austen’s novels worse, the essay frames the Quirk travesties in terms of Susan Sontag’s “Notes on Camp,” asking whether it is possible that these imprudent “improvements” might actually be good because they are bad. Insofar as the enhanced editions make manifest the Camp sensibility that has long been latent in Austen’s prose, they tease promising critical insight; however, the increasingly derivative mash-ups ultimately fail in their campiness precisely where Austen succeeds: for hers remains a secret of style.   

Boxes, Bottles, and Death: Collecting and Medical Reform in The Mill on the FlossJennifer Diann Jones

This article examines Mr and Mrs Pullet’s collections of medicine bottles and pill boxes in George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss. It first establishes how the Pullets use their collections to stave off their fear of her death, using theories of the pathology of collecting developed by Jean Baudrillard and Mieke Bal. It then demonstrates how the items in the Pullets’ collections bring, to borrow Elaine Freedgood’s term, “fugitive meaning” into the text by showing that they reveal implicit criticisms of the nature of manufacturing and the problem of medical reform. Finally, it shows that the collections disrupt the plot of the novel, creating what Amanpal Garcha calls a sketch; both the collections and the illness that fuels them defy the diachronic plot of the novel, and are instead synchronic fragments. Ultimately, the collections work to contain the narrative of illness.

Thomas Hardy’s Theory of Tragic Character​Manya Lempert

As a tragic novelist, Hardy departs from realism and privileges nonnarrative affect over plot. Hardy’s novels, like Athenian tragedies, contest the irrevocable plot at hand. In Athenian tragedy, storylines beyond heroines’ control destroy their good character, while they or others lament the injustice of such plots. So in Tess, Angel assumes that what Tess was made to do, against her will, redefines her to her detriment; her narrator protests her innocence. This is, I show, the antithesis of the Aristotelian model of tragedy in which protagonists themselves inadvertently cause their demises, but are understood to be morally uncorrupted in the process. It is different, too, from the Christian reading of tragedy in which heroines fall because of their moral vices. The latter, however, is the view that Sue adopts in Jude. Hardy marshals these contrasting conceptions of tragedy—Athenian, Aristotelian, Christian—to indict rape culture and internalized victim-blaming. 

The Second Phase of Realism in American Fiction: The Rise and Fall of the Social Self​Rafael Walker

Contributing to the current effort to rethink American realism, this essay concentrates on the work of second-generation realist novelists both well known (Dreiser, Wharton) and forgotten (Robert Grant, Robert Herrick, and Booth Tarkington). I argue that, during the first two decades of the twentieth century, American novelists did for fiction what their contemporaries, the pragmatists, did for philosophy: they reconceive the modern subject for a new modernity. Like the philosophical tradition of the previous two centuries, earlier realist fiction understood the liberal individual as the exemplary modern subject. However, in an age characterized by “the regress of self-sufficiency and the progress of association,” as one contemporary economist had it, liberal individualism’s stock dropped among a number of thinkers—artists and academics alike. As the essay demonstrates the way in which novelists participate in this culture-wide effort to transform realism and redefine modern subjectivity in the US, it also challenges the received relationship between women and consumption. To overturn the standard view that consumption was largely a solipsistic activity in women, I show the ways in which this body of fiction, together with pragmatist writings, exposes the thoroughgoing sociality of consumer culture. 

Natural Histories of Social Bodies: Rethinking Caribbean and Victorian Realisms​Kathleen DeGuzman

This essay examines a shared practice of mimetic yet pliable realism across the Victorian and postcolonial divide. It offers close readings of George Lamming’s Season of Adventure (1960) and George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda (1876) to argue that the authors similarly conceptualize as well as enact a realist project of depicting the complexities of the everyday amid questions of spiritual experience, political commitment, and the ethics of the aesthetic. Ultimately, the essay shows that realism entails a self-conscious representational project for both Lamming and Eliot—a formal and political intersection that unexpectedly bridges twentieth-century Anglophone Caribbean literature to its Victorian antecedent.

The Specter of Orality in Frankenstein and Patchwork GirlHyewon Shin

Published on CD-ROM, Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl (1995) is a hypertext rewriting of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein (1818). This essay examines the gothic evocations of oral rhetoric seen in these two texts. Writing a multiframed, epistolary novel and a work of hypertext fiction respectively, Shelley and Jackson defy a writing culture that emphasizes originality and objectivity, and foreground oral characteristics such as intertextuality and an empathic audience relationship. Frankenstein is a product of Shelley’s oral-style composition that weaves preexisting materials. Its epistolary frame, wherein the reader is posited as the ultimate addressee of Walton’s letters, gives the reader a quasi-oral sense of immediacy and vivid realism. The hypertext Patchwork Girl is an electronic text(ile), woven not with needle or pen but with the cut, copy, and paste functions of a computer. Comparable to the oral bard’s memory, the computer becomes a prosthetic storytelling device enabling man–machine collaboration, while the informal narrative voice heightens audience interaction.

 

Reviews

ANDERSON, AMANDA. Bleak Liberalism. Reviewed by IAN AFFLERBACH.

BONAPARTE, FELICIA. The Poetics of Poesis: The Making of Nineteenth-Century English FictionReviewed by JAMES HAMBY.

CODR, DWIGHT. Raving at Usurers: Anti-Finance and the Ethics of Uncertainty in England, 1690-1750 Reviewed by MICHAEL GENOVESE.

LANZENDÖRFER, TIM, ed. The Poetics of Genre in the Contemporary Novel. Reviewed by AIHUA CHEN.

LAZO, RODRIGO, and JESSE ALEMÁN, eds. The Latino Nineteenth Century. Reviewed by ELENA V. VALDEZ.

MILLER, MONICA CAROL. Being Ugly: Southern Women Writers and Social Rebellion. Reviewed by BARBARA BENNETT.

NAPIER, ELIZABETH R. Defoe’s Major Fiction: Accounting for the Self. Reviewed by NICHOLAS SEAGER.

SMITH, ANDREW, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Frankenstein. Reviewed by SARAH MARSH.

VALKEAKARI, TUIRE. Precarious Passages: The Diasporic Imagination in Contemporary Black Anglophone Fiction. Reviewed by TOYA MARY OKONKWO.

 

Contributors

Kathleen DeGuzman is an assistant professor of English at San Francisco State University, where she teaches courses in postcolonial literature and the novel. She received her PhD in English from Vanderbilt University in 2015 and is completing a book manuscript that compares the Anglophone Caribbean and Victorian Britain as archipelagic cultures with surprisingly similar approaches to literary form.

Jennifer Diann Jones is a lecturer at the University of Portsmouth. Her PhD at the University of California at Davis examined the function of music in George Eliot’s novels; since then, her research has turned toward questions of the representation of medicine in nineteenth-century fiction. She is currently working on a book-length study on representations of anaesthesia, and has had work published/forthcoming in the George Eliot ReviewPeer English, and Victoriographies.

Manya Lempert is an assistant professor of English at the University of Arizona. She received her doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley in 2015, and is now completing the first book-length study of tragedy in the modernist period. Her work on tragedy and evolutionary biology is forthcoming in Twentieth-Century Literature.

Sydney Miller is a PhD candidate in English at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is currently working on her dissertation, tentatively titled, “Weather Ex Machina: Climatic Determinism and the Fiction of Causality in the Twentieth-Century Novel.”

Hyewon Shin is an associate professor in the Department of English at Korea University. She has published articles on American novels and Japanese animation for journals such as 미국소설 (American Fiction)현대영미소설 (Modern Fiction in English), and Animation: an interdisciplinary journal. Her teaching and research interests include twentieth-century American novels, science fiction, postmodernism in East Asia, and comparative media studies.

Rafael Walker received his PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania, where he has since taught as a postdoctoral fellow. He specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, and his work in this area has appeared in a number of venues. His essay on Nella Larsen recently won the Modern Language Association’s Crompton-Noll Award. At present, he is writing a book on early-twentieth-century American fiction, provisionally titled “Realism after Individualism: Women, Desire, and the Modern American Novel.”

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