College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Brandon W. Hawk, “Versions of the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew in Early England”
The apocryphal Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew found widespread popularity throughout the medieval period across much of Europe. As the transmission of Pseudo-Matthew spread in the early Middle Ages, it exerted a strong influence on early English culture. In order to elucidate the specific textual forms of this apocryphal gospel used for translations in early England, this article presents a detailed examination of two Old English sermons that rely on the apocryphon, known as the Old English Pseudo-Matthew and Vercelli 6. Throughout this examination, Latin witnesses to Pseudo-Matthew train our view to even more capacious localities abroad, and situating the Old English translations allows us to see this literature within a much wider world.
Amanda K. Ruud, “Refusing Consolation in Shakespeare's Lucrece”
In Lucrece, Shakespeare’s heroine interrupts a famous Roman narrative and, “pausing for means to mourn some newer way,” speaks for the figure of Hecuba in an image of the Fall of Troy. Focusing on this ekphrastic scene, Ruud argues that Shakespeare's poem subverts the instrumentalizing logic of epic by heroizing the act of mourning. Though Lucrece’s ekphrasis recreates scenes from the Aeneid, Lucrece employs the rhetorical figure of prosopopoeia to delay the poem’s epic action and subordinate it to tragic lament. By transforming the ambitious ekphrastic scene into a space for mourning, Shakespeare resists depicting Lucrece’s loss as merely instrumental to either political change or literary fame. Ruud further argues that Shakespeare’s poem converts the figure of prosopopoeia from an instrument of rhetorical display to a self-cancelling, elegiac poetic form. Lucrece’s commitment to mourning empowers the poem to participate in an ongoing reimagination of humanist rhetoric in the English Renaissance.
Francesca Cauchi, “'Dangerous conceits' and 'bloody passion': The Dual Master-Slave Reversal in Othello”
The essay throws new light on the master-slave dynamic in Othello. This dynamic is shown to operate on two levels simultaneously: the socio-hierarchical level between general and ancient, and the psycho-hierarchical level between reason and passion. It is argued that Othello’s authority over Iago and Iago’s over Othello is directly proportional to the authority maintained by reason over passion within the economy of their respective souls. The essay is divided into three sections. The first offers a brief case study of Iago as the personified non plus ultra of Nietzschean slave ressentiment and the instrumental reason employed by such ressentiment; the second details the manner in which the rhetorical strategies deployed in Act 1 of Othello foreground the Moor’s complacency and concomitant underestimation of the base affects which will ultimately unseat his reason; and the third offers a sustained close reading of the literary conceit which dominates Act 2, scene 1 and is shown to prefigure the master-slave reversal within Othello’s soul.
Karen A. Winstead, “Mrs. Harker and Dr. Van Helsing: Dracula, Fin-de-Siècle Feminisms, and the New Wo/Man”
This essay finds Bram Stoker’s Dracula strongly sympathetic to the New Woman as Sarah Grand construed her in her 1894 essay for the North American Review and in her 1893 novel The Heavenly Twins. Through his protagonists Wilhelmina Harker and Lucy Westenra, Stoker shows the deleterious effects wrought by a repressive and condescending “brotherhood” and advocates a marriage of partners based on mutual affection and respect. My reading calls for a reconsideration of Lucy Westenra, often read as either a naïf or a latent vamp, and, especially, of Abraham Van Helsing, the novel’s putative hero. Much in Dracula invites us to read Van Helsing as a lonely old man, more interested in regulating sexuality than in vanquishing a vampire, whose treatments harm rather than help his female patients. Dracula dramatizes a struggle between the “oh so clever” “Madam Mina” and the chivalrously cruel doctor whose ambiguous outcome captures the uncertain fate of the New Woman at the fin-de-siècle. Stoker is at best cautiously optimistic: the force of tradition and authority are formidable, and the “chivalry” Grand identifies with true manliness is in Dracula less likely to liberate women than to keep them safely ensconced in the “Sphere.”