Volume 82, Issue 2 | June 2021

Editor's note
Author Title
Marshall Brown Vale atque Ave
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Daniel Davies Medieval Scottish Historians and the Contest for Britain  
Scholars often claim that medieval writers use Britain and England interchangeably, but Britain was a contested term throughout the period. One persistent issue was how Scotland fit within Anglocentric visions of the island it shared with England and Wales. This article traces imperialist geography in English historiography via the descriptio Britanniae (description of Britain), a trope found across the Middle Ages, and the fourteenth-century Gough Map, the first sheet-map of Britain. Scottish historians rebut the claims of their Anglocentric counterparts and demonstrate their incomplete knowledge, which they zealously supplement by inventorying Scotland’s natural abundance. In particular, the article concentrates on the remarkable celebration of Scotland’s marine life in Walter Bower’s Scotichronicon (ca. 1447). Attending to the long history of these debates both reveals and counteracts the Anglocentrism of insular literary history.
Charles Altieri Resistance to Song: A Modernist View of Early Modern Lyric  
In Theory of the Lyric Jonathan Culler makes powerful arguments for analogies between lyric and song, especially with regard to each medium’s commitment to producing pleasure and separating the speaking voice from individual psychology. But his case runs the risk of avoiding or oversimplifying lyric poems that resist these analogies. These poems call for interpretive acts that fully engage the work of syntax and structure in establishing distinctive modes of experience. Here Shakespeare’s sonnets demonstrate the roles syntax and structure can play, especially in cultivating complex acts of self-consciousness for which Hegel provides our best critical lens. With this focus, some important roles played by metaphysical conceits also become clear. The conceit forces acts of intense reflection. In the poetry, quintessentially in Donne’s “The Extasie,” there emerges a drama of the agents carrying out distinctive acts of self-interpretation: the fullness of love depends on hearing themselves speak and trying to imagine the objective difference that hearing is making in their behavior toward the other lover.
Nicholas Paige Histories of Fiction  
One shared assumption of many recent efforts to delineate a history of fiction (or fictionality, typically understood as a mode of nonliteral reference) is that that term names a conceptual operation, be it intrinsic or culturally learned. This article argues that fiction is merely a particular type of classification, akin but not identical to the classifications performed by terms such as mimesis or verisimilitude. Thus it is nonsensical to claim that fiction qua concept does or does not exist at any given moment: fiction is foremost a way of grouping various literary practices, and it is those practices that emerge over time. The article then recasts the interest in the early novel’s fictionality shown by Catherine Gallagher and others as a problem of practices rather than of concepts. It tracks trends in subject matter and assertions of literal truth through a quantitative diachronic analysis of 230 years of French novels. While these trends cannot by their very nature show the birth of the concept of fiction—which was never born in the first place—they are the type of evidence that should be central to any future history of fiction.
Ben Etherington World Literature as a Speculative Literary Totality: Veselovsky, Auerbach, Said, and the Critical-Humanist Tradition  
This essay revisits critical-humanist approaches to literary totality that have largely been sidelined during the recent revival of world literature studies. While there has been no shortage of defenses of close reading in the face of distant reading and other positivist approaches, this essay argues that it is precisely the hermeneutic attention to particular works that has allowed critical humanists to think about literary practice within the most encompassing purview. For those in this tradition, “world literature” can never be a stable object but is a speculative totality. The essay discusses three exemplary critical concepts that assume a speculative epistemology of literary totality: Alexander Veselovsky’s “historical poetics,” Erich Auerbach’s “Ansatzpunkt,” and Edward Said’s “contrapuntal reading.” Each, it is argued, is grounded in the distinctive qualities of literary experience, a claim for which Theodor Adorno’s account of speculative thinking serves as a basis.
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Tamara S. Wagner Janine Barchas, The Lost Books of Jane Austen
Guenter Leypoldt Beth Blum, The Self-Help Compulsion: Searching for Advice in Modern Literature
Jonathan Arac Joseph Frank, Lectures on Dostoevsky and Franco Moretti, Far Country: Scenes from American Culture
Jennifer C. Nash Alys Eve Weinbaum, The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery: Biocapitalism and Black Feminism’s Philosophy of History
Author Title
Marshall Brown Is a Grapefruit Better than a Grape? A Manifesto for Journal Publication

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