This book uncovers how British writers and artists engaged with archaeological discourse—its artefacts, landscapes, bodies, and methods—uncovering the materials of the past to envision radical possibilities for the present and future. The project traces how a range of canonical and less familiar figures turned to archaeology to shape major late-Victorian and modern discussions: informing debates over shifting gender roles; facilitating the development of queer iconography and the recovery of silenced or neglected histories; inspiring artefactual forgery and transforming modern conceptions of authenticity; and helping writers and artists historicise the traumas of the First World War. Ultimately unearthing archaeology at the centre of these major discourses through which writers and artists conceived of modernity, this book simultaneously positions literary and artistic engagements with the archaeological imagination as forms of archaeological knowledge in themselves, providing a valuable study for scholars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with a range of interdisciplinary interests in literature, art history, and cultural studies.
Shakespeare, memory, and modern Irish literature explores intertextual memories of William Shakespeare in modern Irish writing. It proposes a new way of reading these memories through ‘dismemory’. Dismemory describes disruptive memories that are future oriented, demonstrating how Irish writers make use of Shakespeare to underwrite the Irish nation-state. The ghosts section foregrounds the father–son relation in Irish literature that is modelled on the ‘hauntological’ (Derrida, 1993) relation between Hamlet’s Ghost and his son. This relation is paradigmatic for Irish writers, evident through J. M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World (1907), ‘Hades’ from James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), and John Banville’s Ghosts (1993). These examinations demonstrate how each adapts the father–son structure from Hamlet. The section on bodies thinks through Beckett’s Three Novels (1951–53) and Edna O’Brien’s Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue (1960–86) and how they foreground the material body. These bodies are tied either to the antitheatrical discourse (Beckett) or to maternity discourses (O’Brien), and in both cases, the Irish writers manage to throw off the bodies’ burdens much as their early modern literary forebears did. Finally, the land section examines W. B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney – first Yeats’s concern with the surface of the land results in an ideal image of the dancer, as in As You Like It and Edmund Spenser’s Colin Clouts Come Home Again; then, Heaney’s interest in the land’s depths. Heaney restores these unearthed Irish memories in his poetry, thereby creating a new Irish archive.
Interrogating the text Writing about her experience of the study of English literature in India, Meenakshi Mukherjee has defended postcolonialism as an emancipatory concept on the grounds that ‘it makes us interrogate many aspects of the study of literature that we were made to take for granted, enabling us … to re-interpret some of the old canonical texts from Europe from the perspective of our specific historical and geographical location’ ( Interrogating Postcolonialism: Theory, Text and Context , eds Harish Trivedi and Meenakshi Mukherjee, Indian
23 1 The literature of Italy in Byron’s poems of 1817–20 Nicholas Halmi Although travel to Italy was an almost obligatory rite of passage for young English aristocratic males in the eighteenth century, the interests of these tourists were typically restricted to seeing and acquiring antiquities. Earlier travellers, such as Thomas Coryat in 1608 and Milton in 1638, had been more interested in contemporary than in ancient Italy, for they had considered travel and an acquaintance with other nations to be beneficial to their participation in a shared humanistic
The church as sacred space places the reader at the heart of medieval religious life, standing inside the church with the medieval laity in order to ask what the church meant to them and why. It examines the church as a building, idea, and community, and explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was crucial to its place at the centre of lay devotion and parish life. At a time when the parish church was facing competition for lay attention, and dissenting movements such as Lollardy were challenging the relevance of the material church, the book examines what was at stake in discussions of sanctity and its manifestations. Exploring a range of Middle English literature alongside liturgy, architecture, and material culture, the book explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was constructed and maintained for the edification of the laity. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary theoretical approaches, the book offers a reading of the church as continually produced and negotiated by the rituals, performances, and practices of its lay communities, who were constantly being asked to attend to its material form, visual decorations, and significance. The meaning of the church was a dominant question in late-medieval religious culture and this book provides an invaluable context for students and academics working on lay religious experience and canonical Middle English texts.