This study, which examines a range of canonical and less-well-known writers, is a reassessment of late Victorian literature in its relation to visionary Romanticism. It examines six late Victorian writers – Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Walter Pater, Vernon Lee, Eugene Lee-Hamilton, Theodore Watts-Dunton and Thomas Hardy – to reveal their commitment to a Romantic visionary tradition that surfaces towards the end of the nineteenth century in response to the threat of a growing materialism. Offering detailed readings of both poetry and prose, the book shows the different ways in which late Victorian writers move beyond materiality, though without losing a commitment to it, to explore the mysterious relation between the seen and the unseen. It is a re-evaluation of the post-Romantic visionary imagination, with implications for our understanding of literary modernism.
This book develops insights into the vexed question of Carter's textual practices through the dusty lens of the Gothic. It argues that European Gothic is vital to illuminating and understanding the tension between politics and aesthetics in Carter's work. The book shows how a more concerted focus on Carter's European literary inheritance sheds light on her particular and perverse engagements with androcentric literary and cultural frameworks. It emblematises the tension between her textual extravagancies and her self-declared 'absolute and committed materialism'. Her firm belief 'that this world is all that there is, and in order to question the nature of reality one must move from a strongly grounded base in what constitutes material reality'. The book examines the fraught relationship between Carter's sexual and textual politics. Exploring the ways in which Carter's work speaks to broader discussions about the Gothic and its representations, the book is especially concerned with analysing her textual engagements with a male-authored strand of European Gothic. This is a dirty lineage that can be mapped from the Marquis de Sade's obsession with desecration and defilement to surrealism's violent dreams of abjection. The book not only situates Carter as part of a European Gothic tradition but theoretically aligns her with what Jane Gallop, in her book on Sade, describes as France's "deconstructive" feminism, daughter of antihumanism.
Medicine was transformed in the eighteenth century. Aligning the trajectories of intellectual and material wealth, this book uncovers how medicine acquired a new materialism as well as new materials in the context of global commerce and warfare. It studies the expansion of medicine as it acquired new materials and methods in an age of discovery and shows how eighteenth-century therapeutics encapsulates the intellectual and material resources of conquest. Bringing together a wide range of sources, the book argues that the intellectual developments in European medicine were inextricably linked to histories of conquest, colonisation and the establishment of colonial institutions. Medicine in the eighteenth-century colonies was shaped by the two main products of European mercantilism: minerals and spices. Forts and hospitals were often established as the first signs of British settlement in enemy territories, like the one in Navy Island. The shifting fortunes on the Coromandel Coast over the eighteenth century saw the decline of traditional ports like Masulipatnam and the emergence of Madras as the centre of British trade. The book also explores the emergence of materia medica and medical botany at confluence of the intellectual, spiritual and material quests. Three different forms of medical knowledge acquired by the British in the colonies: plants (columba roots and Swietenia febrifuga), natural objects and indigenous medical preparations (Tanjore pills). The book examines the texts, plants, minerals, colonial hospitals, dispensatories and the works of surgeons, missionaries and travellers to demonstrate that these were shaped by the material constitution of eighteenth century European colonialism.
Reflections on new historicism and cultural materialism
orientation ostensibly founded on a
repudiation of other directions. The ‘new’ or
‘radical’ kinds of criticism I want to discuss in this
chapter have by different means pointed the way for various assaults
on ‘ahistorical’, ‘apolitical’
deconstruction over the last few years. Yet the
‘founding’ texts of new historicism and cultural
materialism in fact
characteristics using concepts taken from the developing fields of French
structuralism and post-structuralism. Many of them were prolific writers,
and the artists’ texts and material practices coalesced around the deconstruction of binaries within the language of painting – the foremost of which was
indicated in the group’s name.
The shift to a Marxist, and then later Maoist, rhetoric was not far, especially in the highly politicised context of French intellectual circles at the end
Art, Global Maoism and the Cultural Revolution
of the 1960s. Dialectical materialism
theoretical context that informs my re-engagement with the earlier
work of the Frankfurt School. In particular, I want to chart the recent ‘affective
turn’ in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, which has proven to be a
fertile, if somewhat disorderly, ground for research within the broader field
of ‘new materialism’. My aim is to draw on some of these theories of affect
to prompt new readings of first-generation critical theory, readings that will
emphasize the latter’s often overlooked concern with feeling, in all its senses.
As will become apparent throughout
attempts to reduce either agency to
structure or vice versa.
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–80) made one of the earliest contributions to this
discussion, in which he placed the free individual at the centre of his reconstruction of historical materialism; and while his project must ultimately be
regarded as a failure, his critique of the schematic historiography of
Stalinism undoubtedly marked a positive contribution to the renewal of historical materialism in the post-war decades.
While Sartre’s was the towering voice of the post-war French and international left, his star
Simplicity, sensuality and politics in Henry Thoreau
nature). Running parallel to such
debates over spiritualism and materialism are those concerned with Thoreau’s
individualism versus his collectivism. Indeed, his spiritualism is often posited
as to blame for his individualism by those disappointed by what they perceive
to be a lack of a more societal vision on the part of Thoreau. Allegations
of extreme individualism are not without some evidence. Thoreau’s first
published political essay, ‘Paradise (To Be) Regained’, was a critique of Etzler’s
technological utopian manifesto, in which he argues against the mechanical
‘The collector’ was another of Bruce’s big categories: the opposite of the
nomad; the person who – he declared every now and then – it was important to stop being. (228)
Susannah Clapp, With Chatwin
Art is never enough. Art always lets you down.
Michael Ignatieff, ‘On Bruce Chatwin’
Bruce Chatwin frequently expressed his personal belief in the perils
of materialism, a belief rooted in his conviction that we are evolutionarily programmed to follow a nomadic model: ‘Travel well, travel light’,
Chatwin wrote in The Nomadic Alternative. ‘A wandering
rather through language. Indeed, while many cultural historians could trace their research
agenda back to an early interest in Marxism, the implications of the cultural turn seemed to be as damning of historical materialism as they were of
traditional empiricist (positivist) history: Bonnell and Hunt argued that ‘in
the face of these intellectual trends and the collapse of communist systems
in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, Marxism as an interpretive
and political paradigm has suffered a serious decline’.1
While Bonnell and Hunt are undoubtedly right to