Volume 64, Issue 3 | September 2003

Author Title
Catherine Sanok Almoravides at Thebes: Islam and European Identity in the Roman de Thebes  
This essay explores the representation of cultural identity and difference in classical romances associated with the court of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. While the story of Troy is used to define European identity as an inheritance from the classical past, the first romance, the Roman de Thèbes, recognizes interaction with Islam as constitutive of European identity. The war between Oedipus's sons for the city of Thebes is populated not only with Greeks and Thebans, but also with several Muslim armies, including Almoravides, who ruled much of Spain at the time of the poem's composition. The poem's capacious understanding of cultural identity registers in its surprising representation of Almoravides as allies of the proto-European Greeks. But in imagining Muslims as participants in the classical past of European culture, the Roman de Thèbes also excludes them from a privileged category of European identity, historicity itself, through what Edward Said has called "synchronic essentialism." In its representation of Almoravides and other Islamic armies at Thebes, the Roman de Thèbes paradoxically anticipates their exclusion from other romance narratives of European identity, even as it recalls the cultural interaction those narratives repress.
Jean Howard Shakespeare and the Geographies of the Early Modern World  
This essay argues that attention to the formal features of genres is one way of exploring the historicity of texts. Using early modern drama as her focus, Howard examines the links between generic forms and the historical forces to which they were both response and provocation. In particular, she examines the importance of geographical setting in demarcating differences among dramatic genres on the early modern stage and in forming part of the repertoire of conventions through which the historicity of texts can be addressed. Special attention is given to the geography of Shakespearean tragedy with Macbeth as a test case for the essay's claims.
Christian Thorne Providence in the Early Novel, or Accident, If You Please  
When early English novels attempt to represent the social totality, they perceive in everyday life not the working out of God's will (that is, providence), but rather an extraordinary social complexity which can either be described as "fortune," or - the answer that novels increasingly turn to - as a sophisticated but empirically comprehensible social network of causes. The emergent system of finance capital also required such causal and prudential narratives in order to produce the idea of credit as calculable risk. Early novels can thus be understood as cognitive mapping for the commercial classes; at their heart lie the deep connections between credit, causal narrative, and social complexity.
Kristine Byron “Books and Bad Company": Reading the Female Plot in Teresa de la Parra’s Ifigenia  
This essay examines Venezuelan writer Teresa de la Parra's Ifigenia, contexualizing the novel in a female tradition of discourse on women and reading (including Jane Austen and Rosalia de Castro), while simulantaneously examining the ways in which Parra writes against the grain of the nineteenth-century female reader as embodied in Flaubert's Madame Bovary. The essay posits Parra's novel as a text interested in scrutinizing literary scripts as well as social ones. It accomplishes this through a combination of pastiche and parody of literary conventions, the employment of subversive rhetorical strategies by its protagonist, and an emphasis in the novel on the topos of reading and the female reader. By scrutinizing the female romance plot itself, Parra both challenges and transforms the tradition of the novel in Spanish America, while building on a unique female literary history.
Author Title
Seth Lerer Music, Body, and Desire in Medieval Culture: Hildegard of Bingen to Chaucer by Bruce W. Holsinger
Anston Bosman Innocence Abroad: The Dutch Imagination and the New World, 1570-1670 by Benjamin Schmidt
Scott Hess Mimesis and Empire by Barbara Fuchs and Old Worlds: Egypt, Southwest Asia, India and Russia in Early Modern English Writing by John Michael Archer
Deirdre Shauna Lynch British Women Writers and the Writing of History, 1670-1820 by Devoney Looser
Virgil Nemoianu Imperfect Histories: The Elusive Past and the Legacy of Romantic Historicism by Ann Rigney
Patricia Meyer Spacks Stupidity by Avital Ronell

Modern Language Quarterly | Department of English, Box 354330 | University of Washington | Seattle, WA 98195-4430