Volume 75, Issue 3 | September 2014

Author Title
Sarah Ellenzweig Paradise Lost and the Secret of Lucretian Sufficiency  
The question of how and why a body falls in Paradise Lost persistently returns to the declining bodies that occupy Lucretius’s De rerum natura. Milton’s Christian support of the Arminian doctrine of free will, his argument that man is “Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall,” thus unfolds in a provocative dialogue with the Lucretian theory of agency. Setting forth a view of matter’s autonomous and vital properties that flirts dangerously with naturalism, Milton emerges as the uneasy inheritor of an ancient and underground Epicurean tradition that understood motion as a self-expressive endeavor of bodies. Moreover, his use of Lucretian physics in Paradise Lost challenges established models of providential superintendence. From Satan to the poem’s speaker to Adam and Eve, this challenge presents itself most enduringly through the Lucretian concept of self-motion, of animate and potentially endless movement independent of external power.
Nicholas Birns The System Cannot Withstand Close Scrutiny: 1966, the Hopkins Conference, and the Anomalous Rise of Theory  
It is often said that the 1960s was an era of phenomenology in literary criticism. Interrogating this only partly justified statement leads us to a revised genealogy of theory in US academe. The famed 1966 conference at Johns Hopkins University saw the nearly simultaneous emergence of structuralism and poststructuralism on American shores. In charting the happenstance of critical fortune at this pivotal and liminal moment, this essay suggests a new understanding of the institutional and intellectual bases of theory. It also addresses the anomalous status of the 1960s as a decade tumultuous in the outer world but fairly placid in academe, and it mediates the role that discussions of theory play in the attempt to categorize the 1960s as a “very short twentieth century” that can be outflanked by past and future.
Carmen Nocentelli The Dutch Black Legend  
English “Hollandophobia” is usually understood as a function or reflection of the rivalries that characterized Anglo-Dutch relations during the seventeenth century. Working against such a circumscribed understanding, this essay contends that Hollandophobia is best thought of as a “Dutch Black Legend” — that is, as a deliberate repetition of the Hispanophobic topoi known as the Spanish Black Legend. Only by acknowledging the intimate relationship between these two phenomena can we make sense of Hollandophobia’s peculiar features while discerning how this seventeenth-century discourse helped construct what the English took to be proper Europeanness.
Michaela Bronstein A Case for Literary Transhistory: Ngũgĩ’s Use of Conrad  
Criticism has long sought the political significance of literature in its engagement with an immediate historical context. Yet this approach fails to account for one of literature’s most important effects: its interaction with readers distant from its moment of creation. The transhistorical travels of literature are usually seen as antihistorical aesthetic transcendence, as a flight from political relevance. This essay argues, using Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s repurposing of Joseph Conrad as a case study, that the literary aspiration to write for the future is instead an invitation to multiple historical uses. Ngũgĩ makes use of Conrad not by engaging with his historical context but by dehistoricizing his literary forms and themes for anti-and postcolonial purposes. Conrad’s novels are usually assimilated to a narrative of modernist experimentation in which innovative literary form becomes politically progressive through its representation of the uncertain and unknowable; for Ngũgĩ, however, the literary techniques are tools for generating political judgments and commitments. Later authors’ uses of their predecessors illuminate not just the possible political uses of earlier works but also the effects of literary form on a wide array of readers.
Author Title
Louisa Mackenzie Sara E. Melzer, Colonizer or Colonized: The Hidden Stories of Early Modern French Culture
Birgit Brander Rasmussen Annette Kolodny, In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery
Deirdre Shauna Lynch Ann Rigney, The Afterlives of Walter Scott: Memory on the Move
Nicholas Dames Tobias Boes, Formative Fictions: Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Bildungsroman
David Kurnick Jed Esty, Unseasonable Youth: Modernism, Colonialism, and the Fiction of Development

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