The Midwestern Pastoral · Place and Landscape in Literature of the American Heartland · By William Barillas

The midwestern pastoral is a literary tradition of place and rural experience that celebrates an attachment to land that is mystical as well as practical, based on historical and scientific knowledge as well as personal experience. It is exemplified in the poetry, fiction, and essays of writers who express an informed love of the nature and regional landscapes of the Midwest.

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The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman · A Dual-Text Critical Edition · Edited by Shawn St. Jean

Scholars have argued for decades over which constitutes the best possible version of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s frequently anthologized story “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” Most editions have been based on the 1892 New England Magazine publication rather than the handwritten manuscript at Radcliffe College. Publication of the unedited manuscript in 1994 sparked controversy over which of the two was definitive.

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Bleak Houses · Marital Violence in Victorian Fiction · By Lisa Surridge

The Offenses Against the Person Act of 1828 opened magistrates' courts to abused working-class wives. Newspapers in turn reported on these proceedings, and in this way the Victorian scrutiny of domestic conduct began. But how did popular fiction treat “private” family violence? Bleak Houses: Marital Violence in Victorian Fiction traces novelists' engagement with the wife-assault debates in the public press between 1828 and the turn of the century.

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The Fin-de-Siècle Poem · English Literary Culture and the 1890s · Edited by Joseph Bristow

Featuring innovative research by emergent and established scholars, The Fin-de-Siècle Poem throws new light on the remarkable diversity of poetry produced at the close of the nineteenth century in England. Opening with a detailed preface that explains why literary historians have frequently underrated fin-de-siècle poetry, the collection shows how a strikingly rich body of lyrical and narrative poems anticipated many of the developments traditionally attributed to Modernism.

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The Absent Man · The Narrative Craft of Charles W. Chesnutt · By Charles Duncan

As the first African-American fiction writer to achieve a national reputation, Ohio native Charles W. Chesnutt (1858—1932) in many ways established the terms of the black literary tradition now exemplified by such writers as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Charles Johnson.

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Raising the Dust · The Literary Housekeeping of Mary Ward, Sarah Grand, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman · By Beth Sutton-Ramspeck

Raising the Dust identifies a heretofore-overlooked literary phenomenon that author Beth Sutton-Ramspeck calls “literary housekeeping.” The three writers she examines rejected turn-of-the-century aestheticism and modernism in favor of a literature that is practical, even ostensibly mundane, designed to “set the human household in order.”

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Inaugural Wounds · The Shaping of Desire in Five Nineteenth-Century English Narratives · By Robert E. Lougy

Desire, Jacques Lacan suggests, is a condition or expression of our wounded nature. But because such desire is also unconscious, it can be expressed only indirectly, for what we consciously desire is hardly ever what we really want. Desire makes itself known, but disguises its presence—appearing, for example, in unconscious but repetitive, and sometimes even self-destructive, patterns of behavior.

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Subjects on Display · Psychoanalysis, Social Expectation, and Victorian Femininity · By Beth Newman

Subjects on Display explores a recurrent figure at the heart of many nineteenth-century English novels: the retiring, self-effacing woman who is conspicuous for her inconspicuousness. Beth Newman draws upon both psychoanalytic theory and recent work in social history as she argues that this paradoxical figure, who often triumphs over more dazzling, eye-catching rivals, is a response to the forces that made personal display a vexed issue for Victorian women.

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Blake, Nationalism, and the Politics of Alienation · By Julia M. Wright

William Blake’s reputation as a staunch individualist is based in large measure on his repeated attacks on institutions and belief systems that constrain the individual’s imagination. Blake, however, rarely represents isolation positively, suggesting that the individual’s absolute freedom from communal pressures is not the ideal.

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Writing Women in Central America · Gender and the Fictionalization of History · By Laura Barbas-Rhoden

What is the relationship between history and fiction in a place with a contentious past? And of what concern is gender in the telling of stories about that past? Writing Women in Central America explores these questions as it considers key Central American texts. This study analyzes how authors appropriate history to confront the rhetoric of the state, global economic powers, and even dissident groups within their own cultures.

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Imperial Bibles, Domestic Bodies · Women, Sexuality, and Religion in the Victorian Market · By Mary Wilson Carpenter

Of the many literary phenomena that sprang up in eighteenth-century England and later became a staple of Victorian culture, one that has received little attention until now is the “Family Bible with Notes.” Published in serial parts to make it affordable, the Family Bible was designed to enhance the family's status and sense of national and imperial identity.

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In the Work of Their Hands Is Their Prayer · Cultural Narrative and Redemption on the American Frontiers, 1830-1930 · By Joel Daehnke

Westward expansion on the North American continent by European settlers generated a flurry of writings on the frontier experience over the course of a hundred years.

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Vernon Lee · Aesthetics, History, and the Victorian Female Intellectual · By Christa Zorn

The subject of renewed interest among literary and cultural scholars, Vernon Lee wrote more than forty books, in a broad range of genres, including fiction, history, aesthetics, and travel literature. Early on, Lee established her reputation as a public critic whose unconventional viewpoints stood out among those of her contemporaries.

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Dark Smiles · Race and Desire in George Eliot · By Alicia Carroll

Although George Eliot has long been described as “the novelist of the Midlands,” she often brought the outer reaches of the empire home in her work. Dark Smiles: Race and Desire in George Eliot studies Eliot's problematic, career-long interest in representing racial and ethnic Otherness.

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Signs of Their Times · History, Labor, and the Body in Cobbett, Carlyle, and Disraeli · By John M. Ulrich

From the 1820s through the 1840s, debate raged over what Thomas Carlyle famously termed “the Condition of England Question.” While much of the debate focused on how to remedy the material sufferings of the rural and urban working classes, for three writers in particular--William Cobbett, Thomas Carlyle, and Benjamin Disraeli--the times were marked by an even more pervasive crisis that threatened not only the material lives of workers, but also the very stability of meaning itself.

Cover of 'Signs of Their Times'