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Abstracts: Volume 85, Numbers 3 & 4 (2006)

Mood Imperative: The Cuckoo, the Latin Lyrics, and the "Cuckoo Song" by James M. Dean

The famous thirteenth-century English lyric "Sumer Is Icumen In," also popularly known as "The Cuckoo Song" and usually regarded as a celebration of the natural world in summer, contains accompanying Latin lyrics, beginning "Perspice, Christicola," which seem contrary to the English lyrics. Editors often decide to omit the Latin lyrics, although those lyrics appear prominently alongside the English text in the unique manuscript. That manuscript, British Library Harley 978, folio 11v, a miscellany from Reading Abbey, contains a mélange of spiritual and secular texts in "conversation" with one another. The Latin lyrics of "The Cuckoo Song" offer a heavenly perspective on the cavorting animals of the English text, making sense even of the singing cuckoo.

The Texture of Emaré by Elizabeth Scala

This essay revaluates the critically neglected Middle English tail-rhyme romance, Emaré. Consigned to folktale status, Emaré has been the subject of few studies largely because of what is seen as a lack of sophistication and historical specificity. Turning to the poem’s central object, a cloth that has typically been read in association with the tale’s heroine and thus in symbolic terms, this essay reads the cloth within an elaborate textual network of romance analogues and late-medieval manuscript culture. It argues that the cloth figures Emaré itself and attests to the self-conscious interests of its newly literate mercantile audience.

The Language of Urbanization in John Stow’s Survey of London by Rachel Ramsey

John Stow’s detailed description of London’s built environment emphasizes how indiscriminate urban expansion, characterized by substandard construction and overcrowding, threatens the City’s social, political, economic, and ecological welfare. In doing so, Stow’s Survey seemingly adheres to the anti-building rhetoric espoused in numerous Royal Proclamations banning any construction or subdivision of buildings within the City and its outskirts. By attributing specific consequences to particular types and kinds of building, however, the Survey replaces the standard Elizabethan building rhetoric with a more nuanced discourse in favor of controlled construction.

Toleration and Translation: The Case of Las Casas, Phillips, and Milton by Elizabeth Sauer

As a literary concept, toleration was tempered by translation--a form of mediation, appropriation, and colonization at once linguistic, cultural, political, and transnational. In this study of toleration as reformulated through translation, early modern English writers serve as translators and transgressors, their works documenting and vindicating England's struggles over foreign lands and peoples. In 1656 John Milton's nephew, John Phillips, published The Tears of the Indians, his translation of Bartolomé de las Casas's Brevissima relación de la destrucciòn de las Indias, which first appeared in English in 1583 as the Spanish Colonie. An examination of the English reception history of the Brevissima relación offers a suggestive context for assessing the negotiations of toleration in translations associated with Milton's circle and in Paradise Lost, which exhibit the English nation's liberty-loving, imperial identity.

"Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Slavery in the Ottoman (and the British) Empire" by Adam R. Beach

This essay explores representations of slavery in several of Montagu’s works, especially The Turkish Embassy Letters. In that text, scholars have generally overlooked the extent to which Montagu’s idealized vision of her elite Ottoman counterparts hinges upon her appreciation for the way they select, maintain, and control large retinues of mostly female slaves. By taking account of slavery in the Ottoman world, we can reappraise Montagu’s texts on Turkey with the understanding that they describe contact zones in which female elites from two very different and powerful slave-holding empires encounter each other. When viewed within such a reconstituted post-colonial paradigm, the progressive and critical potential of Montagu’s feminism appears to be even more limited than most critics have recognized.

The Novelistic Afterlife of Henry Mayhew by Chris Louttit

Academic and journalistic accounts of the neo-Victorian novel have tended to focus on connections with fiction of the period rather than more varied historical sources. This essay analyzes the reception of one particularly notable non-fictional Victorian text: Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor (1850–62). Tracing the varied responses to Mayhew’s work in fiction published between the late 1980s and the present, it explores how novels by Charles Palliser, Matthew Kneale, Michel Faber, and Louis Bayard reinterpret Mayhew’s pioneering social survey. The essay shows how these contemporary writers incorporate Mayhew’s work in order to rewrite the conventions of Victorian fiction. It also demonstrates the ways in which they reinvent London Labour for their own purposes, using it not only as source material but also as a commentary on society in late twentieth-century Britain.

"Maternal Rhetoric in Jane Addams’s Twenty Years at Hull-House" by Heather Ostman

Jane Addams’s 1910 autobiography, Twenty Years at Hull-House, like the autobiographies of other social activists of her time, extended both her reputation and her social reform advocacy with the careful metaphor and rhetoric of motherhood. Such a choice made good sense at the turn of the last century, even though Addams was not a biological mother. Her figurative motherhood obscures her transgressions of middle-class expectations of gender and her critique of the limits placed upon women of her day. Addams uses these persuasive tools to cast a mold for transforming society. They enable her to model through the autobiographical self a map for social change that reconfigures the political hierarchy within patriarchal society. Through maternal rhetoric, Addams demonstrates a shift from individualized, male-centered power to interdependency and mutuality—-in short, a redistribution of power for a more just society.

Fenollosa's Legacy: The Japanese Network of Ezra Pound by Ce Rosenow

The article argues that Ezra Pound is both the recipient and the creator of Ernest Fenollosa’s version of Japan, a version that emphasizes Japan as a cultural resource for America. Pound created a network of Japanese artists and writers to sustain this version of Japan. He persuaded Yone Noguchi, Michio Ito, Tami Kumé, Sadakichi Hartmann, and Katue Kitasono of traditional Japanese culture’s importance, encouraged them to view it as a resource, and then claimed these men as authorities in order to draw on this resource for his own work.

Dryden and Dorset in 1692: A New Record by James A. Winn

Charles Sackville, Earl of Dorset (1638–1706) was among John Dryden’s earliest and most generous patrons. Even though Dorset was compelled as Lord Chamberlain to remove the Catholic convert Dryden from his offices as Poet Laureate and Historiographer Royal in 1689, their friendship continued. A document not previously noticed by Dryden scholars, now in the Kent Archives Office in Maidstone, records a gift of 100 guineas to Dryden from Dorset in 1692, in recognition of Dryden’s dedicating his Satires of Juvenal and Persius to the Earl. Dorset must have been aware that additions Dryden made to his translations cast satirical reflections on the court of William and Mary, and he may have recognized that the dedication itself might be read as not entirely consistent in its praise. Under these circumstances, his generous gift demonstrates his equanimity and his valuing of Dryden’s talent.