Why literary periods mattered : historical contrast and the prestige of English studies

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Holmes, after all, fits into that intersection of quality and popularity that is amenable to academic cultural criticism.

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Consider , always viewed as the annus mirabilis of modernism. Though we do not yet have a good way to systematically study all the books published that year, the American best-seller list of [Table 2] suggests that there was little overlap between what the reading public was actually concerned with at the time and what we now teach as being representative of that year. I suspect, then, that the current vogue for touting the cultural influence of modernism—the little magazines, the social networks—is soon going to seem untimely. So here is my bold prediction: as part of the larger changes distant reading will introduce to literary history, the study of twentieth-century literature is going to bifurcate.

On the one hand, those who are most interested in studying culture will use distant reading to examine popular book market trends: for instance, was science-fiction or romance more popular during the s, and what does that tell us about America? But if the Victorian novel has long been the basis of literary historicism, modernism has long been the focal point of its aesthetics, and modernists will have to reassert that tradition to maintain their status in the university.

Rufus W. If Winter Comes, A. Hutchinson 2. The Sheik, Edith Hull 3. Gentle Julia, Booth Tarkington 4. Simon Called Peter, Robert Keable 6. This Freedom, A. Hutchinson 8. To the Last Man, Zane Grey Eliot The Beautiful and the Damned, F. Constellation of Genius: , Modernism Year One. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, Because early nineteenth century novels are out The title is intriguing to me as an English professor interested in curricular change.

Because early nineteenth century novels are outside my area of expertise, I found the first few chapters slow going.

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I wondered if he was exaggerating the importance of Sir Walter Scott's view of history. The middle section where he explains the development of the English department and the English curriculum, especially the motivation for it was most interesting to me. I had hoped he would propose an alternative structure, but I don't think he did.


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He talked about digital humanities and more interdisciplinary studies, jut nothing to really replace the period survey course as the model. Apr 22, Morgan Kail-Ackerman rated it it was ok. I thought this book was going to be outlining the different literary periods in history.

Why Literary Periods Mattered: Historical Contrast and the Prestige of English Studies

Instead, it was all about history fragmentation and prestige. It was nothing like I was looking for. Dec 17, Lawrence rated it liked it Shelves: criticism , special-fields.

There's a lot I admire in Underwood's work, but I found this monograph less helpful than I had hoped. Aug 06, Anne Stevens rated it it was amazing. A smart, important, yet readable work on the past and future of literary studies. Underwood traces the idea of historical contrast a kind of awareness of the distinctiveness of different eras from Romantic-era fictions to nineteenth-century literary survey courses to the "parallel lives" subgenre of s historical fiction such as A.

Byatt's Possession.

He's done impressive archival research into the history of academic literary studies, using course catalogs and other sources to show th A smart, important, yet readable work on the past and future of literary studies. He's done impressive archival research into the history of academic literary studies, using course catalogs and other sources to show that periodization was central to its establishment but that alternatives such as early twentieth-century comparative and anthropological methods existed. The concluding chapter looks ahead to ways that digital humanities might reshape literary studies.

Matt rated it liked it Feb 07, Ashglass rated it really liked it Feb 11, Charlie rated it liked it Dec 04, Ben O'dell rated it it was amazing Feb 26, Roger Whitson rated it really liked it Sep 16, Jennifer rated it liked it Aug 12, Caitlin rated it really liked it Jul 18, Kyle rated it it was amazing Apr 29, Steph Beyer rated it it was amazing Sep 01, Eric rated it really liked it Nov 17, Michael rated it really liked it Dec 14, Kate marked it as to-read Aug 04, Craig Carey marked it as to-read Jan 05, Kiley marked it as to-read Jan 08, Liz Dague marked it as to-read Jan 17, Ali Fenlon marked it as to-read Feb 05, It became possible to use the word that way only after the discourse of universal history had popularized the assumption that all human societies, past and present, were linked together by the gradual "realisation of a hidden plan of nature" to quote Kant.

In Edward Coke's time, the authority of history was imagined less abstractly. But in most circumstances of daily life it was, of course, impractical to consult a written account. The broader authority of the past was therefore called "custom" or "antiquity," and it did not have to be borrowed from historians. The collective past was rather embodied in a wide range of living institutions.

Ted Underwood | The Stone and the Shell

The Church was a fellowship of the dead and the living stretching back to Christ. The antiquity of a community was visible in the graveyard and, as Coke takes pains to show, it constituted legal authority in the manorial estate. Wolfram Schmidgen's study of "the law of property" argues that community, legal authority, and time remained embedded in novelistic descriptions of things descriptions of land especially, but also other kinds of property through the end of the eighteenth century.

Schmidgen concludes by suggesting that in Radcliffe and more decisively in Scott this symbolic fusion of time, space, and community began to give way to "the individualized, privatized, and reified outlook of modern capitalism," which disavows the embedding of social relations in things. I agree with Schmidgen's account and have already been specifically indebted to his interpretation of Edward Coke but I want to look more closely at the end of the process he describes, because Schmidgen's account would seem to contradict the critical consensus I summarized at the beginning of this chapter.

Schmidgen's reading of Waverley suggests that Scott separated time from the estate by insisting on the visibility of discrete symbols of the past. This reading precisely reverses a prevailing narrative about the historical novel. As I began the chapter by noting, many scholars have argued that Scott advanced realism by discovering that "history" is as invisible and as ubiquitous as the air.

Schmidgen claims that Scott reified the past by making it visible, where Lukacs and Iser suggested that his innovation was to make history disappear. What explains this contradiction?

http://clublavoute.ca/dexoj-torre-del.php I tend to think the question of visibility, as such, is a red herring. There was a robust consensus among novelists, from Ann Radcliffe through George Eliot, that the temporal dimension of community was concealed from the casual observer. But different genres and discourses defined the hidden temporal dimension of community differently.

British Literary Movements (2 of 4)

Eighteenth-century novelists had envisioned collective time as embedded in places and things—pre-eminently, in the manorial estate. But as Gothic novels were displaced by national tales, and eventually by historical novels, the customary authority of property was treated increasingly as an empty sign. This is not quite to say that the past was condensed, as Schmidgen suggests, into visible artefacts or museum exhibits. Rather, nineteenth-century novelists began to imply that the really important, invisible part of collective time was located in the minds of their characters—although only, perhaps, as a slumbering potential, which the events of the narrative would have to awaken and develop.

The central effect of this change, I will argue, was to shift the authority of the collective past away from landed property and toward personal cultivation.

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