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Month: December 2016

Rachel Willie. Staging the Revolution: Drama, Reinvention and History, 1647-72

Rachel Willie. Staging the Revolution: Drama, Reinvention and History, 1647-72. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015. xi, 242 p., 4 b/w ill. ISBN 9780719087639. UK £70.00 (hardcover).

Rachel Willie’s splendid study of theater in England from 1647 to 1672 opens with a tantalizing anecdote: in May 1645, Colonel Blunt of the parliamentarian army mounted a performance of the civil wars in order to redirect his troops’ energies from drink and disorder to acting the parts of Roundheads and Cavaliers. By all counts the men played their roles with gusto. The episode serves to introduce Willie’s central concern in Staging the Revolution – the way in which topical plays on both stage and page “recast the current moment, partly as a way to comment upon contemporary events and partly to rewrite [them]” (17).

Peggy Thompson, ed. Beyond Sense and Sensibility: Moral Formation and the Literary Imagination from Johnson to Wordsworth

Peggy Thompson, ed. Beyond Sense and Sensibility: Moral Formation and the Literary Imagination from Johnson to Wordsworth. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2015. Xv, 213 p., ill. ISBN 9781611486407. U.S. $90.00 (hardcover).

What first drew me to this superb collection was its promise that it would explore complex issues of sensibility and morality in eighteenth-century British literature. Beyond Sense and Sensibility does not disappoint, offering authoritative and compelling chapters about how emotional receptivity and moral sense appear and evolve from the middle 1700s to the turn of the nineteenth century.

Matthew Adams. Teaching Classics in English Schools, 1500-1840

Matthew Adams. Teaching Classics in English Schools, 1500-1840. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015. 210 p. ISBN 9781443881142. £47.99 / $81.95 (hardcover).

The focus of this short, very readable book is on how Latin and Greek were taught in English schools, on what did the teachers concentrate, how and what did they learn in preparation, and of particular interest to SHARP readers, what books did they use or produce as support.

Susanna Fein and Michael Johnston, eds. Robert Thornton and his Books: Essays on the Lincoln and London Thornton Manuscripts

Susanna Fein and Michael Johnston, eds. Robert Thornton and his Books: Essays on the Lincoln and London Thornton Manuscripts. Rochester, NY & Cambridge, UK: York Medieval Press, 2014. xii, 316p., ill. ISBN 9781903153512. £60 / US $99 (hardback).

Robert Thornton was a mid-fifteenth-century Yorkshire gentleman who compiled and wrote two miscellanies for household use: Lincoln Cathedral Library, MS 91 and London, British Library, Additional MS 31042. Lincoln’s three main booklets contain romance, religious, and medical texts, respectively, reflecting an interest in world history; the less neatly organized London explores sacred history – and raises similar questions about genre and devotion – through its textual pairings and sequences. The current volume toggles productively between technical book history and literary analysis,

Michael C. Cohen. The Social Lives of Poems in Nineteenth-Century America

Michael C. Cohen. The Social Lives of Poems in Nineteenth-Century America. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015. 281p., 23 ill. ISBN 9780812247084. US $55.00.

Michael C. Cohen’s The Social Lives of Poems in Nineteenth-Century America is a fascinating and full account of the relationships between poems and readers between the 1790s and early 1900s. Dedicated to a “lived history of literary writing in the United States,” Cohen investigates the “variety of social relations that poems made possible,” both materially and theoretically (1).

Seth Whidden. Authority in Crisis in French Literature, 1850–1880

Seth Whidden. Authority in Crisis in French Literature, 1850–1880. Farnham, UK & Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014. viii, 200p. ISBN 9781472444264. £60 (hardback).

French literary history has long had a problem with authority. What is the core of the French canon? Who is the greatest French author? The most influential? The most revered? Unlike many national literatures, French literature provides no clear answers to these questions. Whereas England finds Shakespeare at the centre of its national theatre, France sees Racine, Molière and Corneille. The Italians claim Dante as a national poet, but France has diverse poets of similar stature in its own history (e.g. Ronsard, Labé, Hugo, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Mallarmé, etc.) Exploring this unease with literary authority, Seth Whidden’s new book provides many convincing arguments about why authority is so fraught in French literary history.

Vincent L. Barnett and Alexis Weedon. Elinor Glyn as Novelist, Moviemaker, Glamour Icon and Business Woman

Vincent L. Barnett and Alexis Weedon. Elinor Glyn as Novelist, Moviemaker, Glamour Icon and Business Woman. Farnham, UK & Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014. x, 238p., ill. ISBN 9781472421821. £60 (hardback).

Vincent L. Barnett and Alexis Weedon provide the first full-length, scholarly examination of the professional life of the internationally renowned British writer and early Hollywood personality, Elinor Glyn (1864–1943). Although few recall the name today, the authors ably indicate that a serious study of Glyn – whom they call “a pioneer of a new mode of professional authorship” (3) – is long overdue.

Linda K. Hughes and Sarah R. Robbins, eds. Teaching Transatlanticism: Resources for Teaching Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Print Culture

Linda K. Hughes and Sarah R. Robbins, eds. Teaching Transatlanticism: Resources for Teaching Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Print Culture. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015. xix, 268p. ISBN 9780748694464. £29.99 (paperback). Also available in hardback, epub and PDF.

This new collection of essays, edited by Linda Hughes and Sarah Robbins, offers a cornucopia of material for teachers and students of transatlantic studies. The volume focuses mainly on transatlantic literary history: in general, authors and texts form the basis for analysis. Publishing and printing history are less prominent, although the questions raised are highly relevant to the histories of authorship, reading, and publishing.

Isabel Hofmeyr. Gandhi’s Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading

Isabel Hofmeyr. Gandhi’s Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2013. 218p, ill. ISBN 9780674072794. US $24.95 (hardback).

Can we really ignore a man whose face keeps appearing on every banknote printed in the Republic of India during the last 69 years? More importantly, given Gandhi’s known hostility to the Western ideals of politics and technological progress, can we ignore the nature of contradictions inherent in his use of the printing press as an experimental device for political and spiritual communication?

If printing, according to McLuhan, was a ditto device which first outlined the contours of the West-European idea of ‘nationalism,’ the ubiquitous Gandhi face on the Indian banknote is an important reminder of the fact as how that idea was appropriated, reinterpreted, and powerfully reinforced by the medium of print in non-Western societies.

Frank Felsenstein and James J. Connolly. What Middletown Read: Print Culture in a Small American City

Frank Felsenstein and James J. Connolly. What Middletown Read: Print Culture in a Small American City. Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2015. 320p., ill. ISBN 9781625341419. US $28.95.

In What Middletown Read, Frank Felsenstein and James Connolly offer a compelling contribution to the growing scholarship on the history of reading. Using circulation records of the Muncie public library from 1891–1902 contained in the What Middletown Read (WMR) database and historical, demographic, and bibliographic data about the borrowers and what they borrowed, Felsenstein and Connolly investigate “the place of books and reading in the lives of ordinary Americans a little more than a century ago” (13).