Special Issue: Periodization: Cutting Up the Past
|Marshall Brown||Periods and Resistances|
|Murakishi Esei||Politics: Divide and Rule|
|Jonathan M. Hess||The Return of Anachronism|
|Margreta de Grazia||Hamlet Before Its Time|
|Robert Griffin||The Age of "The Age of" is Over: Johnson and New Versions of the Late Eighteenth Century|
|Anne K. Mellor||Were Women Writers Romantics? |
Do literary periods as we have academically constructed them apply equally well to women writers? Taking the fields I know best, 18th- and 19th-century British literature, I argue that the canonical divisions between the Enlightenment / Neoclassicism, Romanticism, and Victorian literature are conceptually useless in describing the tradition of women's writing in this period. Women writers saw their female forebears, not as authorities to be challenged or overthrown, but rather as collaborators to be imitated and memorialized.
|Michael North||Virtual Histories: The Year as Literary Period |
Academic studies of particular years approach the problem of periodization from a particularly contemporary perspective. Despite the argument offered by the most self-conscious of such studies, James Chandlers England in 1819, that contemporary historicism traces its existence to Romanticism, annual literary histories such as Hans-Ulrich Gumbrechts in 1926 actually reflect much more recent realities. Unlike Chandlers own account, works like Gumbrechts do not focus on the role of literature in the national self-reckoning of one country, but are instead international and inter-artistic. Instead of defining the Spirit of the Age, works like Gumbrechts use the arbitrariness of the calendar year to define a time that is unified not by spirit but rather by mechanical simultaneity. The temporal synchronicity of such accounts more nearly resembles the discourse networks of Friedrich Kittler, where connections are mechanical and involuntary. In some sense, all such accounts are versions of Y2K, the technological immediacy signified by that date read back into earlier years.
|Timothy J. Reiss||Perioddity: Considerations on the Geography of Histories |
Comparing questions raised in the physical sciences about the nature of time to similar questions raised in literary and cultural historiography about the idea of history and the nature of historical objectivity, this essay traces historically situated ways of knowing history (e.g., narrative, annals, calendars, etc) in order to explore now-habitual western periodizations. Focusing on early modern Europe, nineteenth- and twentieth-century Caribbean, colonial Mexico, and pre-independence India, the essay examines different modes of knowing historical events and conditions over time to suggest how people in different times and places establish their histories against various parameters of analysis such as place, moral experience, "myth," bodily rhythms, symbols, and catastrophes. These signal understandings and lived practices that are neither incommensurable nor directly commutable require careful understanding to get at what, for example, it means to speak of a primacy of moral experience over chronology, or of a place of memory over a time of memory. They require time and practice taken in how different cultures and groups compose their "times," in sensing plural gaps, overlaps, workings and reworkings.
|Barbara Fuchs||Adulterous Alliances: Home, State, and History in Early Modern European Drama and Painting by Richard Helgerson|
|John McGowan||Consequences of Enlightenment by Anthony Cascardi|
|Bradford Mudge||The English Novel in History, 1700-1780 by John Richetti|
|Adam Potkay||Cato's Tears and the Making of Anglo-American Emotion by Julie Ellison|
|Jessica Burstein||Late Modernism: Politics, Fiction, and the Arts Between the World Wars by Tyrus Miller|
Modern Language Quarterly | Department of English, Box 354330 |
University of Washington | Seattle, WA 98195-4430