The Monk as Prolepsis

Though criticism of the Gothic has recently been charged with reproducing its object of study, the tendency to Gothicize the Gothic can be traced at least as far back as the late eighteenth century. One remarkable example of this trend is the critical fortune of Matthew Gregory Lewis. Through the figure of ‘Monk’ Lewis, he was identified not only as creator of his novel but with his villain, Monk Ambrosio. This conflation in turn yields insight into the other well-known fact of his reception, the vociferous, if not entirely universal, condemnation of The Monk. Lewis‘s novel more than simply provided reviewers with a source of outrage; it appears to have subjected them to their worst fear for Gothic readers, textual influence, dictating the narrative of their own responses. Moreover, by reproducing the novels characters and plot, contemporary reviews map out ways in which The Monk supplied a Gothic tale that would prove ultimately inescapable in two centuries of Lewis‘s reception history.

Gothic Studies

Chris Baldick and Robert Mighall have argued rather convincingly that ‘Gothic Criticism’ is in need of an overhaul. I revisit their controversial article through an analysis of Oscar Wilde’s parody of the Gothic and of scholarship, ‘The Portrait of Mr W. H.’ In this tale of creative criticism, Wilde’s hero, Cyril Graham, invents the character of Willie Hughes to prove a theory about Shakespeare’s sonnets. Contrary to Baldick and Mighall, I argue that Gothic criticism might do well to take its cue from its object of study. Plunging deep into the abyss, abandoning pretentions of knowing fact from fiction, natural from supernatural, I whole-heartedly - momentarily - consider the ‘Willie Hughes theory’ and ‘I will take up the theory where Cyril Graham left it and I will prove to the world that he was right’.

Gothic Studies
Close reading and the contingencies of history

1 Impractical criticism: close reading and the contingencies of history Michael Schoenfeldt In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. (Anon.)1 Since the middle of the twentieth century, the discipline of English literature has been marked by a largely counterproductive tension between aesthetics and history. For many politically oriented critics, aesthetics was either uninteresting or implicated in the elite practices they deliberately opposed. And for those who focused on aesthetics, history frequently seemed like a

in Texts and readers in the Age of Marvell

This review article charts the general direction of scholarship in James Baldwin studies between the years 2015 and 2016, reflecting on important scholarly events and publications of the period and identifying notable trends in criticism. While these years witnessed a continuing interest in the relationship of Baldwin’s work to other authors and art forms as well as his transnational literary imagination, noted in previous scholarly reviews, three newly emergent trends are notable: an increased attention to Baldwin in journals primarily devoted to the study of literatures in English, a new wave of multidisciplinary studies of Baldwin, and a burgeoning archival turn in Baldwin criticism.

James Baldwin Review

James Baldwin criticism from 2001 through 2010 is marked by an increased appreciation for Baldwin’s entire oeuvre including his writing after the mid 1960s. The question of his artistic decline remains debated, but more scholars find a greater consistency and power in Baldwin’s later work than previous scholars had found. A group of dedicated Baldwin scholars emerged during this period and have continued to host regular international conferences. The application of new and diverse critical lenses—including cultural studies, political theory, religious studies, and black queer theory—contributed to more complex readings of Baldwin’s texts. Historical and legal approaches re-assessed Baldwin’s relationship to the Civil Rights and Black Power movements and new material emerged on Baldwin’s decade in Turkey. Some historical perspective gave many critics a more nuanced approach to the old “art” vs. “politics” debate as it surfaced in Baldwin’s initial reception, many now finding Baldwin’s “angry” work to be more “relevant” than “out of touch” as it was thought of during his lifetime. In the first decade of the new millennium, three books of new primary source material, a new biography, four books of literary criticism, three edited collections of critical essays, two special issues of journals and numerous book chapters and articles were published, marking a significant increase not only in the quantity, but the quality of Baldwin criticism.

James Baldwin Review

The acceleration of interest in Baldwin’s work and impact since 2010 shows no signs of diminishing. This resurgence has much to do with Baldwin—the richness and passionate intensity of his vision—and also something to do with the dedicated scholars who have pursued a variety of publication platforms to generate further interest in his work. The reach of Baldwin studies has grown outside the academy as well: Black Lives Matter demonstrations routinely feature quotations from Baldwin; Twitter includes a “Son of Baldwin” site; and Raoul Peck’s 2016 documentary, I Am Not Your Negro, has received considerable critical and popular interest. The years 2010–13 were a key period in moving past the tired old formula—that praised his early career and denigrated the works he wrote after 1963—into the new formula—positing Baldwin as a misunderstood visionary, a wide-reaching artist, and a social critic whose value we are only now beginning to appreciate. I would highlight four additional prominent trends that emerged between 2010 and 2013: a consideration of Baldwin in the contexts of film, drama, and music; understandings of Baldwin globally; Baldwin’s criticism of American institutions; and analyses of Baldwin’s work in conversation with other authors.

James Baldwin Review
Economy, exchange and cultural theory

an irresolvable disorientation between the object and the activity of criticism, such that cultural analysis continually and undecidably affirms/negates its ‘other’, endlessly doing itself violence, endlessly antagonising itself. The chapter comprises four sections. The first raises the question of the interdisciplinary nature of cultural analysis

in Rethinking the university

/Rohmer 1 expounded a theory of the cinema’s classicism at mid-century, praised the technical achievements of Hollywood in the age of sound and colour, and elaborated, in contrast to Truffaut’s sharp polemics and ad hominem attacks, a theory of film authorship based on literary criticism and art-historical connoisseurship. This is not the place to retell Cahiers’ conflicted internal history, in which Rohmer played a key role as

in Eric Rohmer

James Baldwin might be imagined as reaching his greatest level of popularity within this current decade. With the growth of social media activist movements like Black Lives Matter, which captures and catalyzes off a Baldwinian rage, and the publishing of works directly evoking Baldwin, his voice appears more pronounced between the years of 2013 and 2015. Scholars in Baldwin studies, along with strangers who were turned into witnesses of his literary oeuvre, have contributed to this renewed interest in Baldwin, or at least have been able to sharpen the significance of the phenomenon. Publications and performances highlight Baldwin’s work and how it prefigured developments in critical race and queer theories, while also demonstrating Baldwin’s critique as both prophetic and “disturbingly” contemporary. Emerging largely from Baldwin’s timelessness in social and political discourse, and from the need to conjure a figure to demystify the absurd American landscape, these interventions in Baldwin studies follow distinct trends. This essay examines the 2013–15 trends from four vantages: an examination of a return, with revision, to popular work by Baldwin; identifying Baldwin’s work as a contributor to theoretical and critical methodology; Baldwin and intertextuality or intervocality; and a new frontier in Baldwin studies.

James Baldwin Review

PART II What is aesthetic criticism? What is aesthetic criticism? 59 2.1  Evaluation The etymology of the word ‘criticism’ points towards an evaluative practice. The word is derived from the Ancient Greek word krínō, ‘to judge’, and krités, ‘a judge’ or ‘juryman’ (Wellek 1981: 298). The word ‘critic’ – kritikos – is then derived from krités (Pearsall 1998). Over time, however, ‘criticism’ has become capacious referring to all manner of commentary and study of texts, and as a consequence what constitutes criticism is contested1. One outcome of the expansion

in Aesthetic evaluation and film