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Abstracts 97.3

Xinyao Xiao, “Oxymoronic Ethos: the Rhetoric of Honor and Its Performance in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar”
This article reads Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar using the framework of classical rhetorical writings of Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, and their Renaissance commentators. Topics include the peculiar oxymoronic nature of orator’s ethos, the uneasy relationship between the performativity of rhetoric and its ethical ends, and the Renaissance anxiety over the hypocrisy and deception potentially involved in the rhetorical representation of one’s self.

Howard Weinbrot, “‘Heureuse Angleterre’: Notes toward Defining the Successful Eighteenth-Century British Monarchy”
Why was the eighteenth-century British monarchy more successful than so many other European monarchies? There are no simple answers to that simple question. There nonetheless are broad areas in which the British monarchy and nation indeed became what Mercier called “Heureuse Angleterre.” That good fortune required restraints upon and expansion of dominant authority. Such events include the removal of James II and framing of the Bill of Rights; trade that increased wealth, enlarged the ranks of merchants and those thought suitable for government and social power; military triumphs that elevated Britain to a Continental and world force, but limited its victor Marlborough’s authority; a changing political theology that allowed resistance under specific circumstances; the good luck of fertile Georgian monarchs; the excesses of the Tory High Church, and the Whig lower church’s ability both to preserve its religious roots and to curb the “tribe of arbitrary ecclesiastics.” These are some of the reasons why in 1771 Samuel Johnson regarded British legislators as a civilizing force, and why in 1774 he called the House of Commons “the supreme council of the kingdom.” That council is a body of distinguished political thinkers for whom “there was hardly ever any question in which a man might not very well vote either upon one side or the other.” George III was not the oracle that Pope fancied Queen Anne to be; but as the third in the Hanoverian line, he denoted stability and a reasonably mature political nation likely to remain a stable and reasonably mature political nation.

Robert W. Reeder, “John Donne’s Self-Murdering Adam and the ‘Relapsarian’ Condition”
As John Donne engages with the doctrine of original sin, this essay argues, he simultaneously stresses the uniqueness of Adam’s responsibility for sin and makes of this uniquely responsible figure a symbol for every person. Adam appears in Donne’s “A Litany” and in several sermons as the only true self-murderer, since those we ordinarily term “suicides” only presume on, rather than create, their deaths. For Donne, however, this capacity for physical and spiritual self-destruction is something that Adam reveals about humanity rather than something he simply causes. In the sober close of the Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624), Donne implies a more particular analogy between his prospective relapse into sickness and sin (on one hand) and Adam’s original lapse (on the other). As Donne identifies with Adam, he accentuates the paradoxical nature of original sin, an irreducibly internal evil which is nevertheless inherited from another.

Michael Rizq, “‘It is not enough that we should read Wordsworth’: Estranged Recognition in Four Quartets
T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets often appears startlingly regressive: proclaiming that “History is now and England,” he structures his metaphysics around a recognizable time and place, seeking to root modernist poetry back into a particular version of the nation. This article argues, however, that Eliot also engages with more alienating experiences, complicating the structures of memory and recognition to uncover a “primitive and forgotten” substrate of our cultural past. It begins by exploring Eliot’s early responses to Wordsworth—whose indulging in childhood memories Eliot distrusted—before reading “The Dry Salvages” as Eliot’s disfigurement of the memorial patterning of The Prelude. It then goes on to discuss the influence of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in “East Coker,” revealing the anxieties about foreignness implicated in Eliot’s return to his ancestral home. These forms of estrangement, it claims, form the basis of Eliot’s shift of focus toward the unknown realm of the “timeless.”