In this imaginative and illuminating work, Annabel Patterson traces the origins and meanings of the Aesopian fable, as well as its function in Renaissance culture and subsequently. She shows how the fable worked as a medium of political analysis and communication, especially from or on behalf of the politically powerless. Patterson begins with an analysis of the legendary Life of Aesop, its cultural history and philosophical implications, a topic that involves such widely separated figures as La Fontaine, Hegel, and Vygotsky. The myth’s origin is recovered here in the saving myth of Aesop the Ethiopian, black, ugly, who began as a slave but become both free and influential, a source of political wisdom. She then traces the early modern history of the fable from Caxton, Lydgate, and Henryson through the eighteenth century, focusing on such figures as Spenser, Sidney, Lyly, Shakespeare, and Milton, as well as the lesser-known John Ogilby, Sir Roger L’Estrange, and Samuel Croxall. Patterson discusses the famous fable of The Belly and the Members, which, because it articulated in symbolic terms some of the most intransigent problems in political philosophy and practice, was still going strong as a symbolic text in the mid-nineteenth century, where it was focused on industrial relations by Karl Marx and by George Eliot against electoral reform.
Fishing by Obstinate Isles explores the relations of recent British and American poetries, challenging American views of a British poetry dominated by antimodernism while discussing the role of rhetorics of national identity on both sides of the Atlantic in the persistence of these views. Devoting its most extensive commentary to a collection of British modernist and postmodernist poets, it attacks the relegation of British poetry to the zones of the quaint, making a compelling case for renewed engagements with fields of British poetry deserving of attention.
Over the past decade the popularity of black writers including E. Lynn Harris and Terry McMillan has been hailed as an indication that an active African American reading public has come into being. Yet this is not a new trend; there is a vibrant history of African American literacy, literary associations, and book clubs. Forgotten Readers reveals that neglected past, looking at the reading practices of free blacks in the antebellum north and among African Americans following the Civil War. It places the black upper and middle classes within American literary history, illustrating how they used reading and literary conversation as a means to assert their civic identities and intervene in the political and literary cultures of the United States from which they were otherwise excluded.
Forgotten Readers expands our definition of literacy and urges us to think of literature as broadly as it was conceived of in the nineteenth century. Elizabeth McHenry delves into archival sources, including the records of past literary societies and the unpublished writings of their members. She examines particular literary associations, including the Saturday Nighters of Washington, D.C., whose members included Jean Toomer and Georgia Douglas Johnson. She shows how black literary societies developed, their relationship to the black press, and the ways that African American women’s clubs—which flourished during the 1890s—encouraged literary activity. In an epilogue, McHenry connects this rich tradition of African American interest in books, reading, and literary conversation to contemporary literary phenomena such as Oprah Winfrey’s book club.
A typical travel book takes readers along on a trip with the author, but a great travel book does much more than that, inviting readers along on a mental and spiritual journey as well. This distinction is what separates Nancy McCabe’s From Little Houses to Little Women from the typical and allows it to take its place not only as a great travel book but also as a memoir about the children’s books that have shaped all of our imaginations.
McCabe, who grew up in Kansas just a few hours from the Ingalls family’s home in Little House on the Prairie, always felt a deep connection with Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House series. McCabe read Little House on the Prairie during her childhood and visited Wilder sites around the Midwest with her aunt when she was thirteen. But then she didn’t read the series again until she decided to revisit in adulthood the books that had so influenced her childhood. It was this decision that ultimately sparked her desire to visit the places that inspired many of her childhood favorites, taking her on a journey that included stops in the Missouri of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Minnesota of Maud Hart Lovelace, the Massachusetts of Louisa May Alcott, and even the Canada of Lucy Maud Montgomery.
From Little Houses to Little Women reveals McCabe’s powerful connection to the characters and authors who inspired many generations of readers. Traveling with McCabe as she rediscovers the books that shaped her and ultimately helped her to forge her own path, readers will enjoy revisiting their own childhood favorites as well.
We are a century removed from Queen Victoria's death, yet the culture that bears her name is alive and well across the globe. Not only is Victorian culture the subject of lively critical debate, but it draws widespread interest from popular audiences and consumers.
Functions of Victorian Culture at the Present Time addresses the theme of the Victorians' continuing legacy and its effect on our own culture and perception of the world. The contributors' diverse topics include the persistent influence of Jack the Ripper on police procedures, the enormous success of the magazine Victoria and the lifestyle it promotes, and film, television, and theatrical adaptations of Victorian texts.
Also addressed are appropriations of Oscar Wilde to market gay identity in contemporary advertising, and appeals to the Victorian empire in constructing the 'New Britain' for the era of globalization. Functions of Victorian Culture at the Present Time encourages a critique of how these artifacts contribute to contemporary culture and confronts the challenges of disseminating the older culture in the new millennium.
The contributors include Simon Joyce, Ronald R. Thomas, Miriam Bailin, Ellen Bayuk Rosenman, Jesse Matz, Sharon Aronofsky Weltman, Kathleen Lonsdale, Christine L. Krueger, Florence Boos, David Barndollar, Susan Schorn, and Sue Lonoff.