Once a byword for Protestant sobriety and moral idealism, Spenser is now better
known for his irony and elusiveness. Yet his sense of humour is still
underestimated and misunderstood. Challenging the bias behind this neglect, this
study shows that humour, far from being peripheral or superficial, goes to the
heart of Spenser’s moral and doctrinal preoccupations. It explores rifts between
The Faerie Queene’s ambitious and idealising postures and its Protestant vision
of corruptible human nature. Figures to be comically ‘undone’ include the hero,
the chivalric lover, the virgin, and the ideal monarch – as well as Spenser’s
own epic-poet persona. Yet bathos has a positive significance in Christian
theology, and Spenserian humour proves to be an expression of tolerance and
faith as well as an instrument of satire. On this basis, Comic Spenser contends
that the alliance of humour and allegory in The Faerie Queene affirms the value
of the creative and ‘errant’ imagination.
of innovation and transformation, but also risks repetition, bathos and cliché. Finally, I consider a transformative faint in Angela Carter's retelling of the necrophilic fairy tale of Bluebeard, ‘The Bloody Chamber’ ( 1979 ) – a faint which pivots the story from recapitulation to reinvention.
Queer, stimulating, romance swoons
In an afterword to her groundbreaking novel, Carol ,
Patricia Highsmith describes her inspiration for writing the text as the experience of a near
that have been associated with comic recognition since classical times – in other words, principles that serve to link rather than differentiate the three relatively modern ‘schools’ of thought. These I summarise as: ‘reduction’, ‘ambiguity’, and ‘play’. 14
At a glance, each of these principles is also a comic technique. ‘Reduction’, that is, may be exemplified by bathos, error, rudeness, and social inferiority. For the most part, these are things observed – in contrast to two of the traditional theoretical schools, ‘superiority’ and ‘relief’, which are things
pestered by a fly. 46 Quite possibly, heroism is being not only punctured in the Spenserian context, but also redefined: error ought to be ‘brushed off’ rather than violently attacked. Perhaps, too, there is a suggestion that the shepherd who is preoccupied with gnats is in danger of losing sight of his flock. From these alternative, unflattering perspectives, the bathos of the rustic analogy is telling, and offers an ironically timed reminder of Red Crosse’s origins (‘with his clownish hands their tender wings / He brusheth oft’; my italics). At the same time, the
This is the first extensive study of literary swooning, homing in on the swoon’s long, rich and suggestive history as well as its potential for opening up new ways of thinking about the contemporary. From the lives of medieval saints to recent romance fiction, the swoon has had a pivotal place in English literature. This study shows that swoons have been intimately connected to explorations of emotionality, ecstasy and transformation; to depictions of sickness and of dying; and to performances of gender and gendering. A literary history of swooning is therefore also a history of crux points for how we imagine the body, and for evolving ideas of physiology, gender, and sexuality. Tracking the history of the figure of the swoon from the thirteenth to the twenty-first century, this study suggests that the swoon has long been used as a way to figure literary creation and aesthetic sensitivity: from the swoons of early mystics to contemporary literary-theoretical depictions of destabilised subjects, literary faints have offered a model of overwhelming, aesthetic, affective response. In the work of Chaucer and Shakespeare, swoons are seen as moments of generic possibility, through which the direction of a text might be transformed. In romantic, gothic and modernist fiction, this study focuses on morbid, feminised swoons used by writers who reject masculinist, heteronormative codes of health. In contemporary romance fiction, irony, cliché and bathos shadow the transformative possibilities of the swoon. This book offers an exciting new way to examine the history of the body alongside the history of literary response.
The challenge of the sublime argues that the unprecedented visual inventiveness of the Romantic period in Britain could be seen as a response to theories of the sublime, more specifically to Edmund Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757). While it is widely accepted that the Enquiry contributed to shaping the thematics of terror that became fashionable in British art from the 1770s, this book contends that its influence was of even greater consequence, paradoxically because of Burke’s conviction that the visual arts were incapable of conveying the sublime. His argument that the sublime was beyond the reach of painting, because of the mimetic nature of visual representation, directly or indirectly incited visual artists to explore not just new themes, but also new compositional strategies and even new or undeveloped pictorial and graphic media, such as the panorama, book illustrations and capricci. More significantly, it began to call into question mimetic representational models, causing artists to reflect about the presentation of the unpresentable and the inadequacy of their endeavours, and thus drawing attention to the process of artistic production itself, rather than the finished artwork. By revisiting the links between eighteenth-century aesthetic theory and visual practices, The challenge of the sublime establishes new interdisciplinary connections which address researchers in the fields of art history, cultural studies and aesthetics.
This collection explores how concepts of intellectual or learning disability evolved from a range of influences, gradually developing from earlier and decidedly distinct concepts, including ‘idiocy’ and ‘folly’, which were themselves generated by very specific social and intellectual environments. With essays extending across legal, educational, literary, religious, philosophical, and psychiatric histories, this collection maintains a rigorous distinction between historical and contemporary concepts in demonstrating how intellectual disability and related notions were products of the prevailing social, cultural, and intellectual environments in which they took form, and themselves performed important functions within these environments. Focusing on British and European material from the middle ages to the late nineteenth century, this collection asks ‘How and why did these concepts form?’ ‘How did they connect with one another?’ and ‘What historical circumstances contributed to building these connections?’ While the emphasis is on conceptual history or a history of ideas, these essays also address the consequences of these defining forces for the people who found themselves enclosed by the shifting definitional field.
This is the first book-length study of one of the most significant of all British television writers, Jimmy McGovern. The book provides comprehensive coverage of all his work for television including early writing on Brookside, major documentary dramas such as Hillsborough and Sunday and more recent series such as The Street and Accused. Whilst the book is firmly focused on McGovern’s own work, the range of his output over the period in which he has been working also provides something of an overview of the radical changes in television drama commissioning that have taken place during this time. Without compromising his deeply-held convictions McGovern has managed to adapt to an ever changing environment, often using his position as a sought-after writer to defy industry trends. The book also challenges the notion of McGovern as an uncomplicated social realist in stylistic terms. Looking particularly at his later work, a case is made for McGovern employing a greater range of narrative approaches, albeit subtly and within boundaries that allow him to continue to write for large popular audiences. Finally it is worth pointing to the book’s examination of McGovern’s role in recent years as a mentor to new voices, frequently acting as a creative producer on series that he part-writes and part brings through different less-experienced names.
In May 1958, and four years into the Algerian War of Independence, a revolt again appropriated the revolutionary and republican symbolism of the French Revolution by seizing power through a Committee of Public Safety. This book explores why a repressive colonial system that had for over a century maintained the material and intellectual backwardness of Algerian women now turned to an extensive programme of 'emancipation'. After a brief background sketch of the situation of Algerian women during the post-war decade, it discusses the various factors contributed to the emergence of the first significant women's organisations in the main urban centres. It was only after the outbreak of the rebellion in 1954 and the arrival of many hundreds of wives of army officers that the model of female interventionism became dramatically activated. The French military intervention in Algeria during 1954-1962 derived its force from the Orientalist current in European colonialism and also seemed to foreshadow the revival of global Islamophobia after 1979 and the eventual moves to 'liberate' Muslim societies by US-led neo-imperialism in Afghanistan and Iraq. For the women of Bordj Okhriss, as throughout Algeria, the French army represented a dangerous and powerful force associated with mass destruction, brutality and rape. The central contradiction facing the mobile socio-medical teams teams was how to gain the trust of Algerian women and to bring them social progress and emancipation when they themselves were part of an army that had destroyed their villages and driven them into refugee camps.
Ralph Knevet's Supplement of the Faery Queene (1635) is a narrative and allegorical work, which weaves together a complex collection of tales and episodes, featuring knights, ladies, sorcerers, monsters, vertiginous fortresses and deadly battles – a chivalric romp in Spenser's cod medieval style. The poem shadows recent English history, and the major military and political events of the Thirty Years War. But the Supplement is also an ambitiously intertextual poem, weaving together materials from mythic, literary, historical, scientific, theological, and many other kinds of written sources. Its encyclopaedic ambitions combine with Knevet's historical focus to produce an allegorical epic poem of considerable interest and power. This new edition of Knevet's Supplement, the first scholarly text of the poem ever published, situates it in its literary, historical, biographical, and intellectual contexts. An extensive introduction and copious critical commentary, positioned at the back of the book, will enable students and scholars alike to access Knevet's complicated and enigmatic meanings, structures, and allusions.