This article introduces and surveys the life and writings of the Anglo-Saxon monk, Ælfric of Eynsham (c.955–c.1010). It provides a summary of the main scholarly work that has been done on Ælfric, specifically in areas of editing, source study, historical context, translation, style, and reception, and gives suggestions for further research, particularly advocating the possibilities of comparative analysis and the adoption of Religious Studies methodologies. Ælfric is one of the most well-known authors of Old English prose, and has been seen as a representative of the late Benedictine Reform in England; however, recent scholarship points toward a rather more idiosyncratic figure with a more complex relationship to his historical moment and to his literary context.
The late nineteenth-century Aesthetic movement challenged many aspects of Victorian literature and culture. This chapter explores how the emphasis on pleasure within Aestheticism was central to that challenge. The pursuit of ‘art for art’s sake’ might seem to imply a step away from the politics of the day, but the hedonism of the movement, the chapter suggests, subverted dominant arguments about culture and society in an age of democratization. The works of Oscar Wilde and Walter Pater provide a means to examine a wider aesthetic counter-culture that resisted Matthew Arnold’s arguments for critical consensus, undermined the calculated happiness of Utilitarian political economy, and broke open new spaces for the appreciation and expression of beauty.
G. Terence Wilson
For centuries, literary critics have made a division between poetry and prose, believing that poetry focuses on complex interactions between sound and sense, while prose centers on lucid significance. However, this article states that the major Transcendentalists believed that no clear distinction existed between poetry and prose. Supposing that the poetic is at one with the organic, they concluded that prose, if it approached the powers of nature, could qualify as poetry. Hence, the general aesthetics of American Transcendentalism are not confined to poetry but rather include poetry and prose alike. The aesthetic theories of Transcendentalists were vast and deep. They touched all the natural elements and resources and they were defined beautifully elucidating the aesthetic concepts of the Transcendentalists. Emerson tried to write about the world in his earliest book, Nature. Margaret Fuller and Henry David Thoreau, too, persistently worked to transform creatures into conceits and tropes into flora and fauna.
This chapter argues that the prescriptive turn in literary aesthetics over the last two centuries has marginalized science fiction, placing it in the category of the “Sublime” rather than the “Beautiful.” However, this is a position that recent advances in cognitive poetics are in the process of reversing. Stockwell explores the science-fictional beauty of expression, beauty of structure, and beauty of world to propose that the key to the immersive experience of science fiction is that it is a genre of compulsion. Close consideration is given to the work of Ray Bradbury, China Miéville, and Roger Zelazny.
Critiquing the amount of scholarly attention paid to the body and to intense, overwhelming feelings, this chapter examines how individuals, mainly the landed ranks, experienced and dealt with affect in daily life and relationships. While scholarship emphasizes suppression and disapproval of passion, this chapter views the management of affect as not only the repression of feelings but also as the encouragement and elicitation of them. It examines the available coping strategies for dealing with strong feelings such as anger or grief. It stresses the interconnections between affect and morality. Affect, judgment and conduct constituted a dynamic interchange in Shakespearean England. Feelings involve judgement and evaluation and are intimately connected to thoughts, norms, and culture. Finally, it points to the importance of the performative nature of affect in this period, concluding that culturally mandated or sanctioned emotions were not necessarily less authentic than spontaneous feelings.
In 2005 the African Union declared the diaspora ‘the sixth region of the continent’. While this was a welcome move, it was also clear that the AU’s understanding of the term ‘diaspora’ was fuzzy at best and was driven predominantly by an economic model. This chapter looks at Africa’s diverse diasporas—both internal to the continent, such as the Indians of East Africa, and externally, such as in Brazil or Liverpool—in order to argue that there is no direct correlation between blackness, diaspora and Africanness, and that whatever identification there might be between the continent and its diasporas depends essentially on the now endangered project of pan-Africanism.
This chapter draws on Derek Gregory’s idea of the ‘colonial present’ in an attempt both to politicize the postcolonial and to embed postcolonial concerns at the heart of geopolitics. It addresses the geopolitical position of Africa in the US-sponsored ‘war on terror’ by exploring the tensions that exist between biopolitical processes of security and development. It concludes with a discussion of alternative modernities which suggests that other forms of biopolitics are being practised, in Africa and elsewhere, that subvert the imperial ambitions of the colonial present even if they do not always succeed in resisting it.
Kathy A. Perkins
This essay traces the efforts of African American women to establish new voices in the American theater during the period from 1910 to 1945. It discusses the role of the Federal Theatre Project Negro Unit in providing opportunities for both African American playwrights and actors, and it highlights some “signal moments” during this period. These include the development of the Little Negro Theatre movement, the staging of Angelina Grimké’s groundbreaking play Rachel, and the establishment of African American acting troupes such as the American Negro Theatre and the Lafayette Players. This essay also considers the works of Mary Burrill, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and Zora Neale Hurston.
Soyica Diggs Colbert
This article explores the formation, expansion, and future of the field of African American performance studies, considering the cultural, social, and political contexts that brought the field into being. This relatively young interdiscipline has emerged as a result of the growth of ethnic and gender studies in the 1970s and the advent of performance studies in the 1980s. Since its beginnings African American performance studies has considered how artists and activists reshape blackness in order to make it a category of liberation rather than confinement. Focusing on performing arts (such as theater, dance, and music), as well as oral expression and modes of self-fashioning, African American performance studies examines black expressive culture within the contexts of the United States.
This article examines the features of African American naturalism. As a literary approach, naturalism attempts to represent and explore the themes, questions, and tensions associated with the explosive growth of science and social science in the late nineteenth century, as well as the limits and consequences of formal and philosophical determinism, and few writers or readers had more at stake regarding these issues than did African Americans. If naturalist fiction often chronicles the limitations and restrictions imposed on individual freedom, there can be no stronger example of the denial of free will than that imposed by the system of chattel slavery in the United States and the concurrent linkage of a slave's ontological status with legal subservience and inferiority. Beginning in the 1890s, the most prominent and influential African American intellectuals and artists, including W. E. B. Du Bois, Charles Chesnutt, Pauline Hopkins, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Sutton Griggs, and James Weldon Johnson, participated in the creation of seminal naturalist texts that responded to immanent social and political conditions and that together offer a more diverse and inclusive portrait of naturalism itself.