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Larry Carver

Chapter 3 attempts to show that reading Sodom in the context of Rochester's apprentice work provides corroborative evidence that Rochester may have had a hand in writing this notorious farce. I do not argue that Sodom should be attributed to John Wilmot, rather that it has been, is, and probably will be for some time to come associated with Rochester because of how closely Sodom fits in – artistically, thematically, ideologically – with his early work. The chapter explores the play’s scabrous satire of Charles II, his minions, and the chief rivals for his bed in the spring and summer of 1670, Court politics, Catholicism, and other targets that we plausibly associate with Rochester: the divine right of kings, a standing army, the Secret Treaty of Dover, and the Declaration of Indulgence. The king’s and his minions’s heroically mad pursuit of pleasure – the word crops up twenty-one times in the play – does not end well, Genesis 19’s fire and brimstone offering a more accurate reflection of man’s experience than the teaching of Epicurus. The chapter goes on to show how Sodom satirizes the artistic mode that served to flatter that Court, the heroic drama. It ends in a reading of a group of poems that in subject matter and experimental rhythms are so close to Sodom that they could be considered a part of it, ‘Too longe the Wise Commons have been in debate’, written some time in April 1671 or March 1673 being, for example, Sodom in miniature.

in Rochester and the pursuit of pleasure
Children’s rights during the COVID-19 pandemic
Pantea Javidan

This chapter examines the causes and consequences of the current crisis in children’s rights during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically how and why children’s fundamental rights to life, health, and safety are besieged in the context of education and schooling. It scrutinizes the laissez-faire pandemic response of minimal mitigations in comparative global perspective, with the United States exemplifying this model and faring worst among peer nations, alongside the United Kingdom and Sweden. Using an intersectional framework regarding systemic inequities, it analyzes policies regarding school reopenings and pandemic mitigations through a review of relevant news media, surveys, statistical data, and public discourse. The master narrative regarding childhood education during the pandemic has created false divisions and dubious equivalencies between different sets of children’s rights to justify in-person schooling with inadequate mitigations. Political officials, economic elites, contrarian “experts,” and aligned technocrats advanced laissez-faire policy fueled by disinformation campaigns, moral panic, and political violence, to overpower scientific consensus, public opinion, and human rights, which disproportionately harms working-class and racial minority children.

in Children’s rights in crisis
Larry Carver

This chapter examines why, in the face of formidable difficulties, the biographical approach has dominated Rochester criticism and why, despite the problems, it should continue to do so. In the reading of two poems, ‘A very heroical epistle in answer to Ephelia’ and ‘An Epistolary Essay, from M.G. to O.B. upon their mutuall Poems’, it traces the fascinating story of how long-accepted assumptions underlying the criticism of Rochester’s work were shaken by David Vieth’s findings that the two poems do not capture Rochester revealing his own beliefs but are satires on his lifelong bête noir, John Sheffield, Earl of Mulgrave. Because the poems have been the focus of a spirited critical debate that goes on to this very day, they allow us to understand the relationship between Rochester and his poetic persona and to scrutinize the conventions by which we have interpreted the poems. Both poems, moreover, grew out of, in part, Rochester’s vexed relationship with John Dryden, a relationship that is further explored in Chapters 4 and 5, Dryden playing a key role in Rochester’s writing of ‘An Allusion to Horace’ (Chapter 4) and the play, Lucina’s Rape Or The Tragedy of Vallentinian (Chapter 5).

in Rochester and the pursuit of pleasure
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Tracey Potts

Neither use nor ornament is a book about making a mess and putting things off. It takes a long, hard look at the phenomenon of personal productivity and makes a case for thinking twice about its recommendations and prescriptions. Its main contention is that far from representing honest-to-goodness improvements in workplace practices and relations, or designs for living where we can gain more with less effort, personal productivity systems have a darker side that bears comparison to Fordist interference. The Introduction lays out a range of theories that aim to capture the complexity of clutter and procrastination as social phenomena. The most significant is Lefebvre’s notion of the ‘reverse image’, which focuses on the photographic negative of any emergent ideal. If Ford staged lurid ‘non-profit making’ domestic and shop-floor scenes as elements of his profit-sharing plan, Allen and his followers offer a no-less dramatic portrait of profitable and unprofitable practices. Mixed in with all of the fun and the creativity of relaxed productivity, then, are powerful injunctions determining how not to live. The methodological approach is also outlined, taking the form of a mix of Foucault’s ‘effective history’, Appadurai’s ‘social life of things’ and Le Guin’s ‘carrier bag theory of fiction’. The resulting ‘cultural biography’ uses the power of small stories to unsettle received ideas about productivity and efficiency, offering a counter narrative to the contemporary self-help refrain less is more, whilst elevating the perceived obstacles to the good life to the level of critique.

in Neither use nor ornament
Abstract only
Larry Carver

A host of verbal portraits of John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester along with five authentic portraits in oil have come down to us but with what truth to likeness it is not easy to tell. As with these various portraits, so with John Wilmot’s poetry, dramatic works, and letters. There is so much we do not know. Half of Rochester’s poems and letters remain undated; the authorship of key works – ‘Timon’, ‘To The Honourable***In the Pall-Mall’ (‘Fling this useless Book away’), ‘Signior Dildo’, and the notorious play, Sodom – is in dispute. The historical evidence, such as it is, must be disentangled from the biased accounts, past and present, of biographers and critics who have mistaken the legend for the life. In the poems, moreover, Rochester assumes a multiplicity of identities, and the real-life Rochester often donned disguises, making him hard to pin down. That said, thanks to the work of many gifted scholars, we know today a good deal more about John Wilmot, his life and work. In attempting to contribute to the ongoing conversation we who care about Rochester have had, this book argues that Rochester’s works should be read in a biographical context. Reading the works as doing something for the poet and his audience reveals that Rochester’s work clusters about a central theme, the pursuit of pleasure, reflects his Christian upbringing and provides evidence of a preoccupation with and, at the end of his life, an acceptance of Christianity.

in Rochester and the pursuit of pleasure
Multidisciplinary and transnational perspectives
Salvador Santino F. Regilme

This introductory chapter sets the stage for a comprehensive and multidisciplinary exploration of the challenges and opportunities in the promotion of children’s rights in the 21st century. In 2023, UNICEF's estimate of over 1.9 billion children worldwide, constituting a significant quarter of the global population, underscores the immense demographic presence of children. Paradoxically, their sheer numbers stand in stark contrast to their vulnerability. Children, by their very nature, are often more susceptible to harm, damage, or abuse compared to adults. This introductory chapter discusses the state of scholarly knowledge about children’s rights and the intended contributions as well as the organizational logic of the volume.

in Children’s rights in crisis
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European modernism and its ‘zoos of agencies’
Tracey Potts

Chapter 2 begins in Berthold Lubetkin’s Penguin Pool in London Zoo, retelling the architectural story of ‘less is more’ with the aim of elbowing humans from the centre of the picture. As will become clear, modernist blueprints and plans are as nothing without Mycobacterium tuberculosis, dust particles, sunlight, mountains, trees, house flies and spit. At the same time as design modernists were streamlining the interior, though, literary modernists were perfecting an altogether more unkempt, at times distinctly unhygienic, version of domestic space, often keeping company with feral agents and non-human animals. Avant-gardist quarrels with principles of hygiene feature prominently in Bohemian ideas of the artist as genius, with the cluttered artist’s garret operating as the material expression of creative energy. Taken together, these competing expressions of being modern introduce considerable tensions into the origin story of when less became more.

in Neither use nor ornament
Form, function and American modernism
Tracey Potts

Chapter 3 takes up the American episode of the story of design modernism by looking at two architectural prototypes: R. Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Dwelling Machine and Charles and Ray Eames’ Case Study House, together with their overlapping ideas of doing more with less. By focusing upon the seemingly anomalous element in both design projects – clutter – the aim is to untidy the yesterday’s homes of tomorrow narrative that has tended to haunt the careers of both Fuller and the Eameses. Much has been made of the seeming contradiction between Fuller’s architectural vision and what is seen as his overblown archive, for instance. Seen as a material form of bluster, matched only by his verbose and cluttered language, the archive has been read to evidence Fuller’s failure as an architect and designer. Likewise, Ray Eames’ relations to objects has been read to betray her hoarding tendencies, with the interior of the Case Study House being cluttered with things. In both cases, it will be argued that clutter is less of a design contradiction than a deliberate technique: of materialising the process of knowledge work on the part of Fuller and, with respect to the Eamses, of playing with what they termed ‘functioning decoration’ and of experimenting with the ‘new covetables’ (ideas and concepts over material things).

in Neither use nor ornament
A cultural biography of clutter and procrastination
Author:

Neither use nor ornament is a book about personal productivity, narrated from the perspective of its obstacles: clutter and procrastination. It offers a strong challenge to the self-help promise of a clutter-free life, lived in a permanent state of efficiency and flow. The aim is to demonstrate how contemporary projections of the good, productive life rely on images of failure. The book riffs on the aphorism ‘less is more’ – a dominant refrain in present-day productivity advice – to tell stories about efficiency and tidiness over a time period of around a hundred years. The time frame of the book is designed to expose the historical emergence of personal productivity and the drift of efficiency drives from the factory floor into the home. While there is now a vast publishing industry dedicated to solving the ‘problems’ of clutter and procrastination, there is little by way of criticism. The recommendations of storage gurus, house doctors, life coaches, life hackers and productivity bloggers tend to be individualistic in focus, glossing over the social and historical context of mess and exhaustion. Neither use nor ornament aims to challenge this framing and to thicken the rather thin descriptions of the social forces that afflict self-help advice on questions of storage and attention. Above all, this book seeks to open up the state of being neither use nor ornament – a vernacular phrase that applies both to redundant things and people – in order to unravel the moral narratives that hold individuals to account for their inefficiencies and muddles.

Open Access (free)
The legality (or not) of corporal punishment in schools
Lucy Sorensen
,
Charmaine N. Willis
,
Victor Asal
, and
Melissa L. Breger

Despite many mandates against corporal punishment in schools and conclusive evidence that such discipline is physically and psychologically harmful to children’s well-being and dignity – why does the practice continue to flourish and be condoned across most corners of the globe? We address this question with research grounded upon the 1990 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), including 192 nations’ self-reports mandated under the CRC. For our study, we collected information on legal bans on the practice of corporal punishment in schools for 192 countries from 1972 to 2016 and used panel data methods (including a hazard model and two-way fixed effects model) to examine the factors associated with countries adopting bans on corporal punishment in schools. Our findings highlight that the CRC was effective in encouraging the diffusion of corporal punishment bans globally. Yet, it was not enough to end corporal punishment in school systems in most countries. Specifically, we learned that common law countries – those with English legal origin – lagged significantly behind their civil law counterparts in enacting bans. Countries with low levels of female political empowerment also made significantly slower progress towards banning corporal punishment practices during this time period. Our findings suggest that future global efforts to strengthen the human rights, dignity, and empowerment of children may require varied strategies adapted to different legal and political contexts.

in Children’s rights in crisis