Byron’s ethnographic eye:
the poet among the Italians
‘It is from experience, not from Books, we ought to judge of mankind.
There is nothing like inspection, and trusting to our own senses.’1 This
aphorism appears in a letter that Byron wrote to his mother as early
as 1808, but the empiricist principle that informs it persisted as one
of the central epistemological tenets of his whole career as a writer.
Indeed, five years later, in 1813, in a letter to Annabella Milbanke,
Byron expounded on the same concept, stating that the ‘great object
-worshipping Polynesian could (and did) affirm the truth and pre-eminence of Christianity. 1 If travel encouraged self-realisation, it also produced cultural memory.
In the Anglo-Scandinavian context in particular, ethnography offered another venue for thinking about these matters. At issue, most broadly, was what the early modern period often designated race – an amalgamation of qualities and categories today distinguished by ethnicity, language, and nationality as well as racial type. Even the Victorians, Peter Mandell has suggested, ‘used a language of race that was
Ralegh, Harriot, and
Alden T. Vaughan
If Sir Walter Ralegh can legitimately be called ‘the father of the British
Empire’, he is with comparable accuracy ‘the father of Anglo-American
Ethnography’. (‘Ethnography’ here means extensive, informed descriptions of a people and their culture; ‘Anglo-American’ encompasses
English writings about America, whether composed on the scene or in
Europe.) A case can be made that Thomas Harriot was the first major
English ethnographer because his Briefe and True Report of the New
Found Land of
The diabetic body can be mapped as a profoundly Gothic landscape, referencing theories of the monstrous, the uncanny and the abject. Diabetes is revealed under what Foucault has termed the medical gaze, where the body becomes a contested site, its ownership questioned by the repeated invasion of medical procedures. As an invisible chronic illness, diabetic lifestyle is positioned in relation to issues of control, transformation, and the abnormal normal. Translating the Gothic trope of the outsider into medical and social realms, the diabetic body is seen as the Othered body ceaselessly striving to attain perfection through blood purification rituals. This essay examines how diabetes is portrayed in film and fine art practice from the filmic approach to diabetes as dramatic trope to fine art techniques that parallel ethnographic and sociological approaches to chronic illness.
This book provocatively argues that much of what English writers of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries remembered about medieval English geography, history, religion, and literature, they remembered by means of medieval and modern Scandinavia. These memories, in turn, figure in something even broader. Protestant and fundamentally monarchical, the Nordic countries constituted a politically kindred spirit in contrast with France, Italy, and Spain. Along with the so-called Celtic fringe and overseas colonies, Scandinavia became one of the external reference points for the forging of the United Kingdom. Subject to the continual refashioning of memory, the region became at once an image of Britain’s noble past and an affirmation of its current global status, rendering trips there rides on a time machine. The book’s approach to the Anglo-Scandinavian past addresses the specific impact of Nordic materials in framing conceptions of the English Middle Ages and positions the literature of medievalism less as the cause of modern Anglo-Nordic interests than as the recurrence of the same cultural concerns that animated early modern politics, science, and natural history. Emphasising multilingual non-literary traditions (such as travel writing and ethnography) and following four topics – natural history, ethnography, moral character, and literature – the focus of Northern Memories is on how texts, with or without any direct connections to one another, reproduced shared tropes and outlooks and on how this reproduction cumulatively furthered large cultural ideas.
This book provides a combination of critical argument about those central debates within African literary studies, alongside a focus on individual texts and writers that are central to the study of African literatures. It investigates how certain versions of the past get to be remembered, which memories are privileged and what the loci are for memory within the context of African literatures. The book establishes the main debates about African writing in relation to modernism and traditionalism, history and the present, trauma and the ethics of historical representation, and theories of memory as a challenge to the discourses of historiography and ethnography. In these respects, the book first focuses upon memory as a discourse in African writing, emerging as a product of discourse in the ways it operates in private and public life. It then explores how memory is socially and historically constituted within differing African contexts. The book also interrogates the invocation of memory within a number of other discourses (political, historical, ethical, autobiographical, gender, ethnic), enquiring how memory is called upon to legitimate identity, construct or reconstruct it. It further explores how memory is narratively organized, and the ways in which narrative is related to other cultural forms of remembering.
‘The Platonic differential’ and ‘Zarathustra’s laughter’
– within a
phantasmaphysical ethnography of ‘the moderns’? How do
colonial phantasms appear in the neo-colonial metropolis, screened
(literally) by the image of others; when, unlike the 1960s (the
decade of Independence), the post – as in the post-colonial
(or even the post-modern) – is no longer a promise of the
future? Here we return to the question as to which century we might
Byron’s connection with Italy is one of the most familiar facts about British Romanticism. A considerable portion of his legend is linked to his many pronouncements about the country (where he lived between 1816 and 1823), its history, culture and people, as well as about his own experiences in Italy and among Italians. Offering new insights into Byron’s relation to Italy, this volume is concerned with the real, historical ‘Anglo-Italian’ Byron, and his ‘almost Italianness’ as a poet. Its essays bring together different critical perspectives to take the pulse of current debates and open up new lines of enquiry into this crucial theme in Byron Studies and Romantic-era Studies more widely. In doing so, they explore how Byron’s being in Italy affected his sense of his own individual identity and of the labile nature of the self. It affected his politics – both in theory and in practice – and, of course, his whole development as a writer of lyrics, dramas, narratives, satires and letters. Moreover, the essays show how Italy affected, changed and informed Byron’s thinking about matters far beyond Italy itself. As the book shows, the poet’s relation to the country and its culture was complicated by a pervasive dialectic between familiarity and distance, and thus neither stable nor consistent. For this reason, among many others, the topic of ‘Byron and Italy’ remains an endless source of intellectual, literary, historical and existential fascination.
It is surprising, at this point in the story of the rich and strange rediscovery of a text so important to French and English literary and social history, that no collection of scholarly essays related to Mandeville's Travels yet exists in English or French. This book is a collection of essays by scholars in England and France, who produce a complex and sometimes contradictory view of Mandeville's book as an important object of early modern attention, as well as a feature of early modern literary context. The chapters range in emphasis from textual and bibliographic studies of Mandeville's late medieval and early modern Nachleben to studies of 'Mandevillian ideologies', to readings of romances and especially theatrical productions, illuminated by understandings of the new life in print of the Travels and its excerpted account of the Levant. Part I of the book makes clear that there were profound changes in motives for publication, anthologisation and readerly reception of the text(s) from the time of the incunabula, through its use by explorers Columbus, Frobisher and Ralegh, to its appearance as a children's book in the Enlightenment. These changes underscore alterations of economies and geographical experience in the mostly post-medieval 'Age of Discovery'. Part II is on Mandevillian ideologies and examines the Nachleben of the Travels through a historical discourse on the Turks and Islam in early modern England, development and geography of scripture. Part III is on Mandevillian and focuses on the drama of the newly invented medium of the commercial theatre.