Volume 72, Issue 2 | June 2011

Author Title
Eric Hayot On Literary Worlds  
Is it possible to come up with a better theory of the world than the ones governing contemporary debates on world literature and world-systems, to invent one more closely connected to the literary itself? This essay rethinks the relationship between "world" and literature, not to produce a mediating relay between world literature and world-systems but to see if a third analysis, focusing on the ontology of composed works, can bring "world" differently into the picture. The essay also investigates whether such a theory makes any difference to our understanding of world literature or to the history of worldedness as an aesthetic and cultural phenomenon: as a symptom and as a compass for the history, in other words, of totality as a function of the human imagination. Along the way, the essay develops five variables with which to analyze literary worlds, taken to refer to the represented totality of the work's diegetic space.
Joshua Scodel Finding Freedom in Hamlet  
Hamlet and its protagonist place liberty at their center of vision by exploring its diverse senses. Freedom in Hamlet is of different kinds, always limited and hard to obtain or keep. The play's other characters serve as clarifying foils to Hamlet himself, who as the closely watched son of the murdered king is limited in his freedom to maneuver and whose quest for freedom is both fueled and stymied by the Ghost's command that he kill his uncle. Hamlet dramatizes the felt connections between external constraints on freedom of action and internal states that inhibit or foster such freedom. To assert some degree of social and political freedom depends on attaining freedom from thoughts and feelings that block free action. Hamlet probes the early modern semantic range of free and its cognates, which could denote sociopolitical status, on the one hand, and aspects of moral character and behavior, on the other. Influenced but not bound by Stoic and Christian conceptions of freedom, Hamlet can act most freely, and ultimately kill Claudius, after achieving a sense of inner moral freedom based on trust in a "divinity" that oversees the world.
Raphael Ingelbien and Benedicte Seynhaeve The Critique of Hamletism in The Wild Irish Girl and Corinne  
This essay explores the intertextual use of Hamlet in Sydney Owenson's Wild Irish Girl and Germaine de StaŽl's Corinne to shed new light on these writers' interventions in European Romantic politics. Both Owenson and StaŽl associated their male protagonists with the figure of Hamlet at a time when Shakespeare's Danish prince was being reinvented as an embodiment of Romantic weltschmerz and as a symbol for the powerless, isolated intellectual. Instead of contributing to the Romantic cult of a melancholy Hamlet, Owenson and StaŽl confront their protagonists with the influence of empowered Ophelias who illustrate a less solipsistic version of melancholy. Thus both authors criticize the inertia that gripped their male counterparts directly after the French Revolution. StaŽl's novel ultimately follows a tragic pattern, while Owenson's gestures toward the possibility of a comic ending. But beyond the different levels of optimism implied by those endings, Owenson and StaŽl deliver a similar message to the Romantic intellectual, a message that most Romantics ignored in their persistent cultivation of Hamletic attitudes.
Charles Altieri Reading Bradley After Reading Laforgue: How Eliot Transformed Symbolist Poetics into a Paradigmatic Modernism  
This essay asks how T. S. Eliot's dissertation work on F. H. Bradley influenced changes in his poetry: negatively from the self-consciousness attitudinizing of Laforguian analysis and positively to what a Bradleyan sense of "degrees of reality" might be said to sponsor. Bradley assumed the power he did in Eliot's thinking because he addressed many of the concerns Eliot had begun to develop from symbolist poetics, particularly its critiques of empiricism and its engagement in the infinite ironies involving the status of subjectivity. Bradley also transformed these concerns by constructing the isolated subject so that its associations with the social order become manifest. Because Eliot could show through Bradley that the world of relations is the actual substance that one lives for, he could derive concepts of humility and faith that had no place in his earlier poetics. The essay's test case is a reading of how The Waste Land fleshes out the potential in emphasizing the power of relations over the power of foundational thinking.
Author Title
John E. Toews Dominick LaCapra, History and Its Limits: Human, Animal, Violence
Hassan Melehy Timothy Hampton, Fictions of Embassy: Literature and Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe
Maureen Quilligan Bruce R. Smith, The Key of Green: Passion and Perception in Renaissance Culture
Nicholas Dames Garrett Stewart, Novel Violence: A Narratography of Victorian Fiction
Joycelyn K. Moody Katherine Adams, Owning Up: Privacy, Property, and Belonging in U.S. Women's Life Writing
Bi-qi Beatrice Lei Alexander C. Y. Huang, Chinese Shakespeares: Two Centuries of Cultural Exchange
Jessica Burstein Enda Duffy, The Speed Handbook: Velocity, Pleasure, Modernism

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