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Familial Forms
Politics and Genealogy in Seventeenth-Century English Literature
Erin Murphy
University of Delaware Press, 2011

Familial Forms is the first full-length study to examine how literary writers engaged the politics of genealogy that helped define the “century of revolution.” By demonstrating how conflicts over the family-state analogy intersected with the period’s battles over succession, including: the ascent of James I, the execution of Charles I, disputes over the terms of the Interregnum government, the Restoration of Charles II, the Exclusion Crisis, the deposition of James II, the ascent of William and Mary, and Anne’s failure to produce a surviving heir, this study provides a new map of the seventeenth-century politics of family in England. Beginning with a reconsideration of Jacobean patriarchalism, Familial Forms focuses on the work of John Milton, Lucy Hutchinson, John Dryden, and Mary Astell. From their contrasting political and gendered positions, these authors contemplated and contested the relevance of marriage and kinship to government. Their writing illuminates two crucial elements of England’s conflicts. First, the formal qualities of poems and prose tracts reveal that not only was there a competition among different versions of the family-state analogy, but also a competition over its very status as an analogy. Second, through their negotiations of linear and nonlinear forms, Milton, Hutchinson, Dryden, and Astell demonstrate the centrality of temporality to the period’s political battles.

Through close textual analysis of poetry, political tracts, parliamentary records, and nonliterary genealogies, Familial Forms offers a fresh understanding of the seventeenth-century politics of genealogy. It also provides new answers to long-standing critical questions about the poetic form of canonical works, such as Paradise Lost and Absalom and Achitophel, and illuminates the political significance of newly-canonical works by women writers, including Aemilia Lanyer’s Salve Deus Rex Judaeoreum, Hutchinson’s Order and Disorder, and Astell’s A Serious Proposal to the Ladies.

Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

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Feminist Comedy
Women Playwrights of London
Willow White
University of Delaware Press, 2024
Feminist Comedy: Women Playwrights of London identifies the eighteenth-century comedic stage as a key site of feminist critique, practice, and experimentation. While the history of feminism and comedy is undeniably vexed, by focusing on five women playwrights of the latter half of the eighteenth century--Catherine Clive, Frances Brooke, Frances Burney, Hannah Cowley, and Elizabeth Inchbald--this book demonstrates that stage comedy was crucial to these women’s professional success in a male-dominated industry and reveals a unifying thread of feminist critique that connects their works. Though male detractors denied women’s comic ability throughout the era, eighteenth-century women playwrights were on the cutting edge of comedy and their work had important feminist influence that can be traced to today’s stages and screens.

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Fictions of Pleasure
The Putain Memoirs of Prerevolutionary France
Alistaire Tallent
University of Delaware Press, 2024
Out of the libertine literary tradition of eighteenth-century France emerged over a dozen memoir novels of female libertines who eagerly take up sex work as a means of escape from the patriarchal control of fathers and husbands to pursue pleasure, wealth, and personal independence outside the private, domestic sphere. In these anonymously published novels, the heroines proudly declare themselves prostitutes, or putains, and use the desire they arouse, the professional skills they develop, and the network of female friends they create to exploit, humiliate, and financially ruin wealthy and powerful men. In pursuing their desires, the putains challenge contemporary notions of womanhood and expose the injustices of ancien-régime France. Until the French Revolution spelled the end of the genre, these novels proposed not only an appealing libertine utopia in which libertine women enjoy the same benefits as their male counterparts but also entirely new ways of looking at systems of power, gender, and sexuality.

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Figurations of France
Literary Nation-Building in Times of Crisis (1550-1650)
Marcus Keller
University of Delaware Press, 2011

In Figurations of France: Literary Nation-Building in Times of Crisis (1550-1650), Marcus Keller explores the often indirect and subtle ways in which key texts of early modern French literature, from Joachim Du Bellay’s Défense et illustration de la langue française to Corneille’s Le Cid, contribute to the fiction of France as a nation. Through his fresh take on these and other classics, he shows that they not only create the French as an imaginary community but also provide venues for an incisive critique of the political and cultural construct that underpins the modern nation-state.

Current theories of nationhood, in particular the concepts of the nation form and fictive ethnicity (Étienne Balibar), inform the close readings of Du Bellay’s Défense, Ronsard’s Discours, d’Aubigné’s Tragiques, Montaigne’s Essays, Malherbe’s odes, and Corneille’s Le Cid and Horace. They reveal the imaginary power and unifying force of early modern figurations of France that come to bear in this heteregoneous corpus of French literature, with texts ranging from manifesto and epic poem to essay and tragedy. Situating each author and text in their particular historical context, the study suggests that the literary invention of France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is as abundant as it is conceptually innovative: Du Bellay, for example, develops an idea of France by portraying the French language as a pruned and grafted tree while d’Aubigné proposes to think of the French as a nuclear but fatherless family. Blood functions as a highly charged metaphor of nationhood in all texts.

Opening up new perspectives on these canonical works, the focus on literary nation-building also puts them into unexpected and thought-provoking relationships to each other. Figurations of France deliberately crosses the fictive boundary between the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries and argues that, in terms of imaginary nation-building, the contours that delineate the early modern period and separate it from what we call the modern era quickly begin to dissolve. Ultimately, the book makes the case for early modern literature as a creative and critical discourse, able to nourish and nuance our thinking about the nation as the postmodern nation-state is increasingly called into question by the economical, political, and cultural effects of globalization.

Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

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Frances Burney and Narrative Prior to Ideology
Brian McCrea
University of Delaware Press, 2014

Frances Burney and Narrative Prior to Ideology works between Burney’s Journals and Letters and her fiction more thoroughly than any study of her in the past twenty-five years. By doing so, it offers significant reinterpretations of Burney’s four novels: EvelinaCeciliaCamilla, and The Wanderer. It describes Burney’s eluding the major modern–isms through which critics have tried to read her: Feminism (with its “gendering” of beauty and reversal of gender roles); Capitalism and its Marxist critique (here the details of Burney’s housekeeping become important); Professionalism (as a response to status inconsistency and class conflict); and Ian Watt’s “Formal Realism” (Burney perhaps saved the novel from a sharp decline it suffered in the 1770s, even as she tried to distance herself from the genre).

Burney’s most successful writing appeared before the coining of “ideology.” But her standing “prior to ideology” is not a matter of chronological accident. Rather, she quietly but forcefully resisted shared explanations—domesticity as model for household management, debt as basis for family finance, professional status as a means to social confidence, the novel as the dominant literary genre—that became popular during her long and eventful life.

Frederic Jameson has described Paul de Man, “in private conversation,” claiming, “Marxism . . . has no way of understanding the eighteenth century.” Frances Burney and Narrative Prior to Ideology conjoins Burney’s “eighteenth-centuryness” with her modernity.

Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

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Frankenstein and STEAM
Essays for Charles E. Robinson
Robin Hammerman
University of Delaware Press, 2022

Charles E. Robinson, Professor Emeritus of English at The University of Delaware, definitively transformed study of the novel Frankenstein with his foundational volume The Frankenstein Notebooks and, in nineteenth century studies more broadly, brought heightened attention to the nuances of writing and editing. Frankenstein and STEAM consolidates the generative legacy of his later work on the novel's broad relation to topics in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM). Seven chapters written by leading and emerging scholars pay homage to Robinson's later perspectives of the novel and a concluding postscript contains remembrances by his colleagues and students. This volume not only makes explicit the question of what it means to be human, a question Robinson invited students and colleagues to examine throughout his career, but it also illustrates the depth of the field and diversity of those who have been inspired by Robinson's work. Frankenstein and STEAM offers direction for continuing scholarship on the intersections of literature, science, and technology.

Published by the University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.


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French Women Authors
The Significance of the Spiritual, 1400–2000
Kelsey L. Haskett
University of Delaware Press, 2013
French Women Authors examines the importance afforded the spiritual in the lives and works of French women authors over the centuries, thereby highlighting both the significance of spiritually informed writings in French literature in general, as well as the specific contribution made by women writers. Eleven different authors have been selected for this collection, representing major literary periods from the medieval to the (post)modern. Each author is examined in the light of a Christian worldview, creating an approach which both validates and interrogates the spiritual dimension of the works under consideration. At the same time, the book as a whole presents a broad perspective on French women writers, showing how they reflect or stand in opposition to their times. The chronological order of the chapters reveals an evolution in the modes of spirituality expressed by these authors and in the role of spiritual belief or religion in French society over time. From the overwhelmingly Christian culture of the Middle Ages and pre-Enlightenment France to the wide diversity prevalent in (post)modern times, including the rise of Islam within French borders, a radical shift has permeated French society, a shift that is reflected in the writers chosen for this book. Moreover, the sensitivity of women writers to the individual side of spiritual life, in contrast with the practices of organized religion, also emerges as a major trend in this book, with women often being seen as a voice for social and religious change, or for a more meaningful, personal faith. Lastly, despite a blatant rejection of God and religion, spiritual threads still run through the works of one of France’s most celebrated contemporary writers (Marguerite Duras), whose cry for an absolute in the midst of a spiritual vacuum only reiterates the quest for transcendence or for some form of spiritual expression, as voiced in the works of her female predecessors and contemporaries in France, and as demonstrated in this book.

Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

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