Alan Ackerman and Magda Romanska
Reader in Comedy: An Anthology of Theory and Criticism
This unique anthology presents a selection of over seventy of the most important historical essays on comedy, ranging from antiquity to the present, divided into historical periods and arranged chronologically. Across its span it traces the development of comic theory, highlighting the relationships between comedy, politics, economics, philosophy, religion, and other arts and genres. Students of literature and theatre will find this collection an invaluable and accessible guide to writing from Plato and Aristotle through to the twenty-first century, in which special attention has been paid to writings since the start of the twentieth century.
Seeing Things: From Shakespeare to Pixar
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division, 2011
A technological revolution has changed the way we see things. The storytelling media employed by Pixar Animation Studios, Samuel Beckett, and William Shakespeare differ greatly, yet these creators share a collective fascination with the nebulous boundary between material objects and our imaginative selves. How do the acts of seeing and believing remain linked? Alan Ackerman charts the dynamic history of interactions between showing and knowing in Seeing Things, a richly interdisciplinary study which illuminates changing modes of perception and modern representational media.
Seeing Things demonstrates that the airy nothings of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Ghost in Hamlet, and soulless bodies in Beckett's media experiments, alongside Toy Story's digitally animated toys, all serve to illustrate the modern problem of visualizing, as Hamlet put it, 'that within which passes show.' Ackerman carefully analyses such ghostly appearances and disappearances across cultural forms and contexts from the early modern period to the present, investigating the tension between our distrust of shadows and our abiding desire to believe in invisible realities. Seeing Things provides a fresh and surprising cultural history through theatrical, verbal, pictorial, and cinematic representations.
‘In these elegant essays, at once theatrical and philosophical, Alan Ackerman offers a probing meditation on sight and on the lingering mysteries of the invisible.’--Martin Puchner, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Harvard University and author of The Drama of Ideas: Platonic Provocations in Theater and Philosophy
‘I was consistently engaged and fascinated by Alan Ackerman’s outstanding book, Seeing Things. What is most exciting about this study is Ackerman’s perceptions: through compelling intellectual inquiry, he takes the reader on a wonderful journey through his complex and inquisitive mind.’--David Krasner, Department of Performing Arts, Emerson College
‘… Alan Ackerman confronts us with the spectral question: to see or not to see? From Plato to Ibsen and Beckett to Disney Toy Story movies, you're asked to rehearse perception – philosophically, aesthetically, even metaphysically – in the mind’s eye.’--Herbert Blau, Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood Professor of the Humanities, University of Washington
Alan Ackerman, ed.
Against Theatre: Creative Destructions on the Modernist Stage
Modernist theatre emerges as a field marked by competing, and often contradictory, impulses and developments. A critique, even destruction, of certain types of theatre is, this book shows, a productive force within modernism and a force that led to the most successful reforms of modern theatre and drama. Theatre is understood by modernists sometimes as a medium, sometimes as a trope or idea that reconfigures the relationships between ‘actors’ and ‘audiences’ while interrogating each and every aspect of theatrical representation from a variety of perspectives, including aesthetic, political, legal, and technical ones. Against Theatre argues that anti-theatricalism emerges in response to specific kinds of theatre and, by extension, that modernist forms of anti-theatricalism, which attack not necessarily theatre itself but the value of theatricality, nevertheless originate in a historically specific experience of theatre. This fascinating collection includes contributions from leading scholars in the English-speaking world and will be a key resource to anyone interested in modern drama, modernist theatre, modernism, and theatre studies.
Suzanne Conklin Akbari
The Norton Anthology of World Literature. 3rd revised edition. 6 vols.
W.W. Norton, 2012.
The Norton Anthology of World Literature
Third Edition, Paperback
Volume(s): Package 1: Vols. A, B, C
Martin Puchner (General Editor, Harvard University), Suzanne Conklin Akbari (Editor, University of Toronto), Wiebke Denecke (Editor, Boston University), Vinay Dharwadker (Editor, University of Wisconsin-Madison), Barbara Fuchs (Editor, University of California-Los Angeles), Caroline Levine (Editor, University of Wisconsin-Madison), Pericles Lewis (Editor, Yale University), Emily Wilson (Editor, University of Pennsylvania)
A classic, reimagined.
Read by millions of students since its first publication, The Norton Anthology of World Literature remains the most-trusted anthology of world literature available. Guided by the advice of more than 500 teachers of world literature and a panel of regional specialists, the editors of the Third Edition—a completely new team of scholar-teachers—have made this respected text brand-new in all the best ways. Dozens of new selections and translations, all-new introductions and headnotes, hundreds of new illustrations, redesigned maps and timelines, and a wealth of media resources all add up to the most exciting, accessible, and teachable version of “the Norton” ever published.
This book presents a new approach to the relationship between traditional pictorial arts and the theatre in Renaissance England. Demonstrating the range of visual culture in evidence from the mid-sixteenth to mid-seventeenth century, from the grandeur of court murals to the cheap amusement of woodcut prints, John H. Astington shows how English drama drew heavily on this imagery to stimulate the imagination of the audience. He analyses the intersection of the theatrical and the visual through such topics as Shakespeare’s Roman plays and the contemporary interest in Roman architecture and sculpture; the central myth of Troy and its widely recognised iconography; scriptural drama and biblical illustration; and the emblem of the theatre itself. The book demonstrates how the art that surrounded Shakespeare and his contemporaries had a profound influence on the ways in which theatre was produced and received.
John H. Astington
Actors and Acting in Shakespeare’s Time; The Art of Stage Playing
Cambridge University Press, 2010
John Astington brings the acting style of the Shakespearean period to life, describing and analysing the art of the player in the English professional theatre between Richard Tarlton and Thomas Betterton. The book pays close attention to the cultural context of stage playing, the critical language used about it, and the kinds of training and professional practice employed in the theatre at various times over the course of roughly one hundred years –1558–1660. This up-to-date survey takes into account recent discoveries about actors and their social networks, about apprenticeship and company affiliations, and about playing outside the major centre of theatre, London. Astington considers the educational tradition of playing, in schools, universities, legal inns, and choral communities, in comparison to the work of the professional players. A comprehensive biographical dictionary of all major professional players of the Shakespearean period is included as a handy reference guide.
John H. Astington
English Court Theatre 1558-1642
Cambridge University Press, 1999, 2006
Several famous playwrights of the Elizabethan and Stuart periods, including Shakespeare, wrote for open-air public theatres and also for the private indoor theatres at the palaces at which the court resided. This book is a full account of such court theatre, and examines the theatrical entertainments for Elizabeth I, James I, and Charles I. By contrast with the now-vanished playhouses of the time, four of the royal chambers used as theatres survive, and the author attempts to draw as full a picture as he can of such places, the physical and aesthetic conditions under which actors worked in them, and the composition and conduct of court audiences. He both confirms the role of royal patronage in the growth of professional theatre, and offers a new definition of the function of theatrical occasions in creating the cultural profile of the English court. The book includes plans and illustrations of the theatres and an appendix which lists all known court performances of plays and masques between 1558 and 1642.
When eleven-year-old Becca returns to her grandmother’s rustic cottage for another summer, she finds herself seeing her beloved island in new ways. A hunting owl mistakes a bobbing ponytail for prey. A cozy sleepover on the beach takes on the tinges of a nightmare when a family of river otters shows up to claim their territory. An argument between a nestbound baby eaglet and its haranguing mother reaches operatic dimensions. Becca finds a dead bear on the beach and helps to give it a burial at sea.
Then there are dramas of the human variety. Aunt Meg is grieving over a miscarriage, and Aunt Clare’s medical work in Africa has brought on a sadness that even the love of family and the island’s beauty can’t cure. And there is the burning question of whether Aunt Fifi and the local plumber will ever become an item, and would that mean losing the only plumber on the island?
Meanwhile, cousin Alicia claims to be too old to participate in the kids’ summer project ― a performance of The Tempest, a play that seems to find unsettling echoes in the natural surroundings Becca thought she knew so well.
For many critics, Romanticism is synonymous with nature writing, for representations of the natural world appear during this period with a freshness, concreteness, depth, and intensity that have rarely been equaled. Why did nature matter so much to writers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries? And how did it play such an important role in their understanding of themselves and the world?
In Natures in Translation, Alan Bewell argues that there is no Nature in the singular, only natures that have undergone transformation through time and across space. He examines how writers—as disparate as Erasmus and Charles Darwin, Joseph Banks, Gilbert White, William Bartram, William Wordsworth, John Clare, and Mary Shelley—understood a world in which natures were traveling and resettling the globe like never before. Bewell presents British natural history as a translational activity aimed at globalizing local natures by making them mobile, exchangeable, comparable, and representable.
Bewell explores how colonial writers, in the period leading up to the formulation of evolutionary theory, responded to a world in which new natures were coming into being while others disappeared. For some of these writers, colonial natural history held the promise of ushering in a "cosmopolitan" nature in which every species, through trade and exchange, might become a true "citizen of the world." Others struggled with the question of how to live after the natures they depended upon were gone. Ultimately, Natures in Translation demonstrates that—far from being separate from the dominant concerns of British imperial culture—nature was integrally bound up with the business of empire.
Liza Blake and Jacques Lezra, eds.
Lucretius and Modernity
Palgrave Macmillan US, 2016
Lucretius's long shadow falls across the disciplines of literary history and criticism, philosophy, religious studies, classics, political philosophy, and the history of science. The best recent example is Stephen Greenblatt's popular account of the Roman poet's De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) rediscovery by Poggio Bracciolini, and of its reception in early modernity, winner of both a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. Despite the poem's newfound influence and visibility, very little cross-disciplinary conversation has taken place. This edited collection brings together essays by distinguished scholars to examine the relationship between Lucretius and modernity. Key questions weave this book's ideas and arguments together: What is the relation between literary form and philosophical argument? How does the text of De rerum natura allow itself to be used, at different historical moments and to different ends? What counts as reason for Lucretius? Together, these essays present a nuanced, skeptical, passionate, historically sensitive, and complicated account of what is at stake when we claim Lucretius for modernity.
Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009) was one of the most influential figures in American public life from the Civil Rights era to the War on Terror. His writing, activism, and connections to people of power in religion, politics, and culture secured a place for himself and his ideas at the center of recent American history. William F. Buckley, Jr. and John Kenneth Galbraith are comparable -- willing controversialists and prodigious writers adept at cultivating or castigating the powerful, while advancing lively arguments for the virtues and vices of the ongoing American experiment. But unlike Buckley and Galbraith, who have always been identified with singular political positions on the right and left, respectively, Neuhaus' life and ideas placed him at the vanguard of events and debates across the political and cultural spectrum. For instance, alongside Abraham Heschel and Daniel Berrigan, Neuhaus co-founded Clergy Concerned About Vietnam, in 1965. Forty years later, Neuhaus was the subject of a New York Review of Books article by Garry Wills, which cast him as a Rasputin of the far right, exerting dangerous influence in both the Vatican and the Bush White House. This book looks to examine Neuhaus's multi-faceted life and reveal to the public what made him tick and why.
Beggar's Feast is a novel about a man who lives in defiance of fate. Sam Kandy was born in 1889 to low prospects in a Ceylon village and died one hundred years later as the wealthy headman of the same village, a self-made shipping magnate, and father of sixteen, three times married and twice widowed. In four parts, this enthralling novel tells Sam's story from his boyhood—when his parents, convinced by his horoscope that he would be a blight upon the family, abandon him at the gates of a distant temple—through his dramatic escape from the temple and journey across Ceylon to Australia and Singapore, before his bold return to the Ceylon village he once called home. There he tries to win recognition for his success in the world—at any cost.
Sam Bokarie is an ex–African warlord who moves to small-town Canada to capitalize on its zealous hospitality. Based in part on a notoriously vicious figure, this debut novel responds to this warlord’s mysterious disappearance by imagining what would happen if he turned up in Canada and aligned himself with an ambitious but clumsy politician. With searing wit, Boyagoda has created a powerful tale of political ambition and unlikely alliances that reviewers hailed as genius.
Salman Rushdie once observed that William Faulkner was the writer most frequently cited by third world authors as their major influence. Inspired by the unexpected lines of influence and sympathy that Rushdie’s statement implied, this book seeks to understand connections between American and global experience as discernible in twentieth-century fiction. The worldwide imprint of modern American experience has, of late, invited reappraisals of canonical writers and classic national themes from globalist perspectives. Advancing this line of critical inquiry, this book argues that the work of Salman Rushdie, Ralph Ellison, and William Faulkner reveals a century-long transformation of how American identity and experience have been imagined, and that these transformations have been provoked by new forms of immigration and by unanticipated mixings of cultures and ethnic groups. This book makes two innovations: first, it places a contemporary world writer’s fiction in an American context; second, it places two modern American writers’ novels in a world context. Works discussed include Rushdie’s The Ground Beneath Her Feet and Satanic Verses; Ellison’s Invisible Man and Juneteenth; and Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and Light in August. The scholarly materials range from U.S. immigration history and critical race theory to contemporary studies of cultural and economic globalization.
J. Edward Chamberlin
If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories? Finding Common Ground
Toronto, Cincinnati and Manchester: Knopf/Vintage, Pilgrim Press, Carcanet; 2003, 2004, 2006
Like the landscapes and languages of the world, stories both hold people together and keep them apart. If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories? Finding Common Ground illustrates how storytelling traditions convey the different truths of religion and science, of history and the arts, telling people where they came from and why they are here, how to live and sometimes how to die, what to believe and--most importantly--how to believe. They come in many different forms, from creation stories to constitutions, from southern epics and northern sagas to native American tales and African praise songs and from nursery rhymes and national anthems to myths and mathematics. They are all ceremonies of beliefs, even when they are chronicles of events--this is our common ground across cultures--and they always embody the contradictions between reality and the imagination, and between fact and fiction.
George Elliott Clarke
Canadian Scholars Press International, 2005
Each poem 'dialogues' with a full-colour, fine-art, Black nude photographed by Trinidadian-Canadian Ricardo Scipio. This righteously Afrocentric volume revisits the Greek myth of the Muses, rendering them as Black women, all daughters of the Daughter of Music, and representing heroic creativity: Calypso, Soul, Blues, Jazz, Reggae, Poetry, Saint Anastacia of Brazil, Dona Beatrice of the Congo, and the African goddess, Oxum.
George Elliott Clarke
George & Rue
Harper Collins Canada, Ecco Press (UK), Carroll & Graf (USA), 2004-05
This internationally celebrated novel is based on the True Crime story of the hangings, for murder, of George and Rufus Hamilton, two 'Africadian' brothers, in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in 1949. While rendered in what the author dubs "Blackened English," the plot unfolds with the heightened grandeur of tragedy, thereby framing raw, backwoods violence with a classical structure, one that also reveals the ugly reality of anti-Black racism in mid-20th-century Canada.
God Hates Fags: The Rhetorics of Religious Violence
New York University Press, 2006, Sexual Cultures Series
Though long thought of as one of the most virulently anti-gay genres of contemporary American politics and culture, in God Hates Fags, Michael Cobb maintains that religious discourses have curiously figured as the most potent and pervasive forms of queer expression and activism throughout the twentieth century. Cobb focuses on how queers have assumed religious rhetoric strategically to respond to the violence done against them, alternating close readings of writings by James Baldwin, Tennessee Williams, Jean Toomer, Dorothy Allison, and Stephen Crane with critical legal and political analyses of Supreme Court Cases and anti-gay legislation. He also pays deep attention to the political strategies, public declarations, websites, interviews, and other media made by key religious right organizations that have mounted the most successful regulations and condemnations of homosexuality.
In her lifetime Elizabeth Bishop was appreciated as a writer’s writer (John Ashbery once called her “the writer’s writer’s writer”). But since her death in 1979 her reputation has grown, and today she is recognized as a major twentieth-century poet. Critics and biographers now habitually praise Bishop’s mastery of her art, but all too often they have little to say about how her poetry does its sublime work—in the ear and in the mind’s eye.
Elizabeth Bishop at Work examines Bishop’s art in detail—her diction, syntax, rhythm, and meter, her acute sense of place, and her attention to the natural world. It is also a study of the poet working at something, challenging herself to try new things and to push boundaries. Eleanor Cook traces Bishop’s growing confidence and sense of freedom, from her first collection, North & South, to Questions of Travel, in which she fully realized her poetic powers, to Geography III and the breathtaking late poems, which—in individual ways—gather in and extend the poet’s earlier work. Cook shows how Bishop shapes each collection, putting to rest the notion that her published volumes are miscellanies.
Elizabeth Bishop at Work is intended for readers and writers as well as teachers. In showing exactly how Bishop’s poems work, Cook suggests how we ourselves might become more attentive readers and better writers. Bishop has been compared to Vermeer, and as with his paintings, so with her poems. They create small worlds where every detail matters.
A Reader's Guide to Wallace Stevens
Princeton UP, 2007: paperback, 2009
Wallace Stevens is one of the major poets of the twentieth century, and also among the most challenging. His poems can be dazzling in their verbal brilliance. They are often shot through with lavish imagery and wit, informed by a lawyer's logic, and disarmingly unexpected: a singing jackrabbit, the seductive Nanzia Nunzio. They also spoke--and still speak--to contemporary concerns. Though his work is popular and his readership continues to grow, many readers encountering it are baffled by such rich and strange poetry.
Eleanor Cook, a leading critic of poetry and expert on Stevens, gives us here the essential reader's guide to this important American poet. Cook goes through each of Stevens's poems in his six major collections as well as his later lyrics, in chronological order. For each poem she provides an introductory head note and a series of annotations on difficult phrases and references, illuminating for us just why and how Stevens was a master at his art. Her annotations, which include both previously unpublished scholarship and interpretive remarks, will benefit beginners and specialists alike. Cook also provides a brief biography of Stevens, and offers a detailed appendix on how to read modern poetry.
A Reader's Guide to Wallace Stevens is an indispensable resource and the perfect companion to The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, first published in 1954 in honor of Stevens's seventy-fifth birthday, as well as to the 1997 collection Wallace Stevens: Collected Poetry and Prose.
Enigmas and Riddles in Literature
Cambridge University Press, 2006
How do enigmas and riddles work in literature? Not just in author A or B or even in the entrancing Old English riddles, but in general. This book offers the first full-length study of how to read them. It revives the old figure of speech known as “enigma” from Aristotle to the seventeenth century, and shows its usefulness. It looks at enigma in the widest sense, as masterplot. It considers questions of riddle and genre, and it proposes a new griph-type class of riddle as scheme. The opening chapter surveys “enigma personified” as sphinx and griffin, resuscitating a lost Graeco-Latin pun on “griffin” that Lewis Carroll used. The history and functions of enigma draw on classical and biblical through to modern writing, while examples concentrate on literature in English, especially modern poetry. Other examples range from European and Middle Eastern literatures to folk-riddling. Three case-studies, on Dante, Carroll, and Wallace Stevens, demonstrate this method of reading in detail. "Seldom is an important book so enjoyable." (Alastair Fowler, Yale Review)
Transpacific Femininities: The Making of the Modern Filipina
Durham and London: Duke University Press, Fall 2012.
In this groundbreaking study, Denise Cruz investigates the importance of the figure she terms the "transpacific Filipina" to Philippine nationalism, women's suffrage, and constructions of modernity. Her analysis illuminates connections between the rise in the number of Philippine works produced in English and the emergence of new social classes of transpacific women during the early to mid-twentieth century.
Through a careful study of multiple texts produced by Filipina and Filipino writers in the Philippines and the United States—including novels and short stories, newspaper and magazine articles, conduct manuals, and editorial cartoons—Cruz provides a new archive and fresh perspectives for understanding Philippine literature and culture. She demonstrates that the modern Filipina did not emerge as a simple byproduct of American and Spanish colonial regimes, but rather was the result of political, economic, and cultural interactions among the Philippines, Spain, the United States, and Japan. Cruz shows how the complex interplay of feminism, nationalism, empire, and modernity helped to shape, and were shaped by, conceptions of the transpacific Filipina.
Spanning the "long" modernist period, from roughly 1880-1950. Modernism: Keywords offers short essays on words used with frequency and urgency in "written modernism," tracking cultural and literary debates and transformative moments of change. The approach takes its inspiration from Raymond Williams’s Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (1976), which argued that we can best understand the character and thought of an era not through its dominant beliefs, but through the problems and debates inadvertently revealed in its words. Unlike dictionaries and glossaries, Keywords focuses on words that cannot be easily and summarily defined: words with unstable meanings and conflicting implications. Unlike historical dictionaries, Keywords analyzes relationships and probes the issues or forces underlying ambiguities and variations. Rather than "settling" modernism, this study unsettles the idea of modernism as possible to define, revealing the modernist period as a vibrant time of circulating, conflicting, and developing ideas, never to be confined to any single spirit or thought.
This book is the result of an extensive collaborative project, undertaken by Melba Cuddy-Keane as director and eleven further members of the research team, all of whom graduated from the University of Toronto, where they were active participants in the Modernist Research and Reading Group. The research team comprised co -authors Melba Cuddy-Keane, Adam Hammond, and Alexandra Peat; collaborating writer Marybeth Curtin; collaborating contributors Glenn Clifton and Rohanna Green; contributors Claire Battershill, Kimberly Fairbrother Canton and Daniel Harney; research assistants Tania Botticella, Stewart Cole, and Sarah Copland; and undergraduate assistant Claire Marie Stancek.
"Modernism Keywords will be an indispensable resource from the moment it appears. The work is rigorous in theoretical conception, broad in historical reach, and powerfully revisionary in its implications for modernist study. It falls within the distinguished legacy of Raymond Williams but also applies the most current methods to an expanding archive of modernist texts. Scholars and students at every level will keep it close at hand."
—Michael Levenson, University of Virginia
Virginia Woolf, the Intellectual & the Public Sphere
Cambridge University Press, 2003
Virginia Woolf, the Intellectual, and the Public Sphere situates Virginia Woolf's ideas on literature, reading, and education in the context of on-going controversies circulating in the newspapers, periodicals, and radio broadcasting of her time. Refuting popular conceptions of Woolf's snobbery and elitism, Melba Cuddy-Keane redefines Woolf as a "democratic highbrow" — a writer intensely engaged in public debates about intellectual culture, adult education, pedagogy, and democratic goals. This study updates Richard Altick's history of the nineteenth-century English common reader by tracing new developments into the first decades of the twentieth century; it also reveals Woolf as a theorist of reading whose understanding of unconscious and conscious processes, dialogic modes, historicism, and evaluative practices anticipates theoretical concepts most often identified with the later twentieth century.
Virginia Woolf, the Intellectual, and the Public Sphere has been described as "an outstanding piece of scholarship: original, provocative, historically and theoretically grounded" (The Yearbook of English Studies) and "required reading for anyone interested in the intellectual and cultural history of modernism" (Modernism/modernity).
Delving into an enormous archive of comic novels, jestbooks, farces, variety shows, and cartoons, Dickie finds a vast repository of jokes about cripples, blind men, rape, and wife-beating. Epigrams about syphilis and scurvy sit alongside one-act comedies about hunchbacks in love. He shows us that everyone—rich and poor, women as well as men—laughed along. In the process, Dickie also expands our understanding of many of the century’s major authors, including Samuel Richardson, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Tobias Smollett, Frances Burney, and Jane Austen. He devotes particular attention to Henry Fielding’s Joseph Andrews, a novel that reflects repeatedly on the limits of compassion and the ethical problems of laughter. Cruelty and Laughter is an engaging, far-reaching study of the other side of culture in eighteenth-century Britain.
“This book is a prodigiously erudite reminder that the eighteenth century was not just polite, but vicious. Drawing on jestbooks, verse satires, comic fiction, and a plethora of overlooked sources, Dickie depicts a literary, visual, and physical world replete with cruelty, ribald denigration, and low and bawdy humor. Skillfully combining textual exegesis with a profound knowledge of recent social history, he shows that mockery of the lower orders, beggars, and the poor; jests and japes at the expense of the crippled, deformed, and handicapped; and ribald enthusiasm for sexual violence and rape were part of a cruel social world in which the unprivileged and disadvantaged, even as they sometimes excited compassion and sympathy, were just as likely to excite a disdain that ran the full gamut of verbal and physical violence.”--John Brewer, California Institute of Technology
“A pioneering work. Dickie uncovers a rich, long-neglected archive and challenges received wisdom on virtually every page. A joy to read and a revelation.”--Toni Bowers, University of Pennsylvania
“With great verve, occasional disgust, and intermittent outrage, Simon Dickie portrays a society of entrenched hierarchies in which entitled aristocrats entertained themselves with cripple dances, libertine young bucks wreaked havoc in both popular fiction and common reality, and the poor and disabled were the inevitable butts of cruel jokes on and off the page. Working against common scholarly assumptions but backed by ample evidence, he argues that delight in the suffering of others was one thing that all classes of eighteenth-century society shared. Throughout he combines the virtues of a historian and a literary critic with a creative and self-conscious awareness of the complex relation of representation to reality. One of the most original, readable, educational, and entertaining books in the field of eighteenth-century studies I have read in the past decade.”--Helen Deutsch, University of California, Los Angeles
“This excellent and thoroughly researched book argues clearly that eighteenth-century readers read—and worse, enjoyed laughing at—jokes that we would find in incredibly bad taste; and in that, Dickie sees the key to the persistence of an entire way of thinking that is now lost to us. Bringing a tremendous amount of material to our attention, he takes a provocative stance against what he sees as an idealized image of the eighteenth century and points to numerous avenues for future research. Terrific and important, Cruelty and Laughter will be of great interest to scholars of eighteenth-century history, literature, popular culture, humor, and the history of the book.”--John O’Brien, University of Virginia and Author of Harlequin Britain: Pantomime and Entertainment, 1690–1760
Democracy, Revolution, and Monarchism in Early American Literature
Cambridge University Press, 2002 (paperback 2009)
Paul Downes combines literary criticism and political history in order to explore responses to the rejection of monarchism in the American revolutionary era. Downes' analysis considers the Declaration of Independence, Franklin's autobiography, Crèvecoeur's Letters From An American Farmer and the works of America's first significant literary figures including Charles Brockden Brown, Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper. He claims that the post-revolutionary American state and the new democratic citizen inherited some of the complex features of absolute monarchy, even as they were strenuously trying to assert their difference from it. In chapters that consider the revolution's mock execution of George III, the Elizabethan notion of the 'king's two bodies' and the political significance of the secret ballot, Downes points to the traces of monarchical political structures within the practices and discourses of early American democracy. This is an ambitious study of an important theme in early American culture and society.