Best known for a trilogy of historical novels set in the fictional town of Gilead, Iowa, Marilynne Robinson is a prolific essayist, teacher, and public speaker, routinely celebrated as a singular author of contemporary American fiction. This collection intervenes in the author’s growing critical reputation, pointing to new and exciting links between the author, the historical settings of her novels, and the contemporary themes of her fictional, educational, and theoretical work. Touching on ongoing debates in race, gender, and environmental politics, as well as education, democracy, and the state of critical theory, New Perspectives on Marilynne Robinson demonstrates the wider secular and popular impact of the author’s work, building on the largely theological focus of previous criticism to suggest new and innovative interpretations of her oeuvre. The collection’s four sections are dedicated to: Robinson’s use of form and style; her exploration of the relationship between gender and the environment; her use of history and the intersection of race, rights, and religion in her work; and a discussion of Robinson and her contemporaries. As such, the collection argues for a reconsideration of Robinson within the field of American and English Studies, by bringing together 16 new, vibrant, and undoubtedly contemporary analyses of her work. Authors include: Bridget Bennett, Richard King, Sarah Churchwell, Jack Baker, Maria Elena Carpintero Torres-Quevedo, Daniel King, Anna Maguire Elliott, Makayla Steiner, Lucy Clarke, Christopher Lloyd, Tessa Roynon, Alexander Engebretson, Emily Hammerton-Barry, Steve Gronert Ellerhoff, Kathryn E. Engebretson, Paul Jenner, and Rachel Sykes."
Robinson as professor and defender of ‘America’s best idea’
Steve Gronert Ellerhoff and Kathryn E. Engebretson
contextualisation of Robinson's ideas reveals, on the one hand, consilience in her claims of community's importance and, on the other, warnings against her habit of idealising American universities. In this essay, Robinson's experience as an academic on short-term contracts and her tenure at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop – by which she made a living, drawing benefits and ultimately an Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System pension – will be considered. Juxtaposing her own words and writings with reflections from those who studied with her and work by the most important educational
Passion, and passion in its profoundest, is not a thing demanding a palatial stage whereon to play its part. Down among the groundlings, among
the beggars and rakers of the garbage, profound passion is enacted.
And the circumstances that provoke it, however, trivial or mean, are no
measure of its power.
Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Sailor1
In 1970 David Sanford Milch submitted two chapters from a novel
as part of his Master of Fine Arts at the prestigious Iowa Writers’
Workshop. The never-
published novel was entitled The
setting for Gilead and Home , she writes:
I set [the novels] in 1956 because that is just on the cusp of the Civil Rights movement. […] I became a sort of student of the history of Iowa because when I came here no-one could tell me anything about the place […] I found this wonderful history of early settlement by abolitionists who created very interesting little towns […] In any case, I found all of this enormously interesting in itself and then twice as interesting in the fact that it's forgotten
A little different every time' - Accumulation and repetition in Jack
's wish to ‘go home one last time’ (33), as well as his resignation and grief that his final trip might be the return of his body after death.
Jack shares most similarities with Lila , a novel that depicts Lila Dahl's journey from itinerant poverty to an anxious but settled life in Iowa. Neither Lila nor Jack ever feel ‘at home’ in Gilead; they are, as Briallen Hopper argues, ‘damaged, outcast characters’ through whom Robinson interrogates the supposed ‘Midwestern serenity’ of the Ames
Rachel Sykes, Jennifer Daly, and Anna Maguire Elliot
A prolific essayist, teacher, and public speaker, Marilynne Summers Robinson is best known for a quartet of historical novels set in the small fictional town of Gilead, Iowa: Gilead (2004), Home (2008), Lila (2014), and Jack (2020).
Since the publication of her debut novel Housekeeping in 1980, critics celebrate Robinson as a singular author of American historical fiction. Yet, as this collection hopes to demonstrate, she is an author who challenges rather than sanctions convention
Victorian touring actresses: Crossing boundaries and negotiating the cultural
landscape provides a new perspective on the on- and offstage lives of women
working in nineteenth-century theatre, and affirms the central role of touring,
both within the United Kingdom and in North America and Australasia. Drawing on
extensive archival research, it features a cross-section of neglected performers
whose dramatic specialisms range from tragedy to burlesque. Although they were
employed as stars in their own time, their contribution to the industry has
largely been forgotten. The book’s innovative organisation follows a natural
lifecycle, enabling a detailed examination of the practical challenges and
opportunities typically encountered by the actress at each stage of her working
life. Individual experiences are scrutinised to highlight the career
implications of strategies adopted to cope with the demands of the profession,
the physical potential of the actress’s body, and the operation of gendered
power on and offstage. Analysis is situated in a wide contextual framework and
reveals how reception and success depended on the performer’s response to the
changing political, economic, social and cultural landscape as well as to
developments in professional practice and organisation. The book concludes with
discussion of the legacies of the performers, linking their experiences to the
Printing Terror places horror comics of the mid-twentieth century in dialogue with the anxieties of their age. It rejects the narrative of horror comics as inherently and necessarily subversive and explores, instead, the ways in which these texts manifest white male fears over America’s changing sociological landscape. It examines two eras: the pre-CCA period of the 1940s and 1950s, and the post-CCA era to 1975. The authors examine each of these periods through the lenses of war, gender, and race, demonstrating that horror comics are centred upon white male victimhood and the monstrosity of the gendered and/or racialised other. It is of interest to scholars of horror, comics studies, and American history. It is suitably accessible to be used in undergraduate classes.
In its contributions to the study of material social differences, queer theoretical writing has mostly assumed that any ideas which embody 'difference' are valuable. More than this, where it is invoked in contemporary theory, queerness is often imagined as synonymous with difference itself. This book uncovers an alternative history in queer cultural representation. Through engagement with works from a range of queer literary genres from across the long twentieth century – fin-de-siècle aestheticism, feminist speculative fiction, lesbian middle-brow writing, and the tradition of the stud file – the book elucidates a number of formal and thematic attachments to ideas that have been denigrated in queer theory for their embodiment of sameness: uselessness, normativity, reproduction and reductionism. Exploring attachments to these ideas in queer culture is also the occasion for a broader theoretical intervention: Same Old suggests, counterintuitively, that the aversion they inspire may be of a piece with how homosexuality has been denigrated in the modern West as a misguided orientation towards sameness. Combining queer cultural and literary history, sensitive close readings and detailed genealogies of theoretical concepts, Same Old encourages a fundamental rethinking of some of the defining positions in queer thought.
The first collection of its kind, Chartist Drama makes available four plays written or performed by members of the Chartist movement of the 1840s. Emerging from the lively counter-culture of this protest campaign for democratic rights, these plays challenged cultural as well as political hierarchies by adapting such recognisable genres as melodrama, history plays, and tragedy for performance in radically new settings. A communal, public, and embodied art form, drama was linked for the Chartists with other kinds of political performance: the oratory of the mass platform, festival-like outdoor meetings, and the elaborate street theatre of protest marches. Plays that Chartists wrote or staged advanced new interpretations of British history and criticised aspects of the contemporary world. And Chartist drama intervened in fierce strategic arguments within the movement. Most notably, poet-activist John Watkins’s John Frost, which dramatises the gripping events of the Newport rising of 1839, in which twenty-two Chartists lost their lives, defends the rebellion and the Chartist recourse to violence as a means for the movement to achieve its aims. The volume’s appendices document over one hundred Chartist dramatic performances, staged by activists in local Chartist associations or at professional benefits at some of London’s largest working-class theatres. Gregory Vargo’s introduction and notes elucidate the previously unexplored world of Chartist dramatic culture, a context that promises to reshape what we know about early Victorian popular politics and theatre.