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Current Issue Article Abstracts

Summer 2017 Vol. 58.2

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Horace Walpole and the Fate of Finance

Jamison Kantor

Long before Marx said that interest-bearing capital was "something dark and mysterious," Horace Walpole wrote The Castle of Otranto (1764)—a groundbreaking gothic novel informed by early-capitalist structures of financial speculation, public credit, and other "spectral" forms of value. While Walpole has been associated with a Whig ideology that supported the advancement of England's commercial interests, this essay argues that his famous novel can also be read as a terrified response to an emerging finance economy, a development in capitalism that Walpole feared could come to dominate society. Featuring a crumbling castle and a prophecy about a lord who has "grown too large to inhabit it," The Castle of Otranto demonstrates how the discourse of rampant economic speculation—and the inevitable bursting of financial bubbles—could inscribe a new form of fate onto the generic codes of the supernatural novel.

An Enlightenment Misanthropology: Rousseau and Marmontel, Readers of Molière

Marco Menin

The aim of this article is to explain the importance of Marmontel's discussion of Rousseau's condemnation of Molière's comic theatre. A cross-reading of Rousseau's Lettre à d'Alembert sur le spectacles and Marmontel's Apologie du théâtre shows in fact that Rousseau's reading of the Misanthrope, far from being merely a sterile historical curiosity, constitutes the heart of a philosophical analysis of literary creation that, thanks to the emotion it conveyed, became a key device for the construction of the moral subject. In fact, it transcends the viewpoint of simple theatrical criticism to encompass several problems central to eighteenth-century ethics: (i) the influence that emotions presented on the stage may have on the feelings of the audience, (ii) the cathartic relation between true emotion and make-believe emotion, and (iii) the possibility of identifying a moral form of laughter.

No Penis? No Problem: Intersections of Queerness and Disability in Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

Jarred Wiehe

My argument claims Sterne's strange, experimental novel as a touchstone for how queerness and disability intersect in the eighteenth century. First, drawing on Tristram's narration concerning Toby's wound, I claim both wound and narration as sites of queerness. The narration and Toby's characterization disrupt heteronormative constructs of gender and desire. Next, I explore Toby and Trim's verbal and physical exchanges in order to reveal the intimate homoeroticism generated between the two men with disabilities; their war careers and domesticity reveal the intersection of queerness and disability inherent in their relationship. Rather than being characterized as impaired, lacking, or in need of recovery, Toby's desire is marked by redirection and relocation. Finally, I examine Toby and Trim's queer collaborative enterprises of rebuilding Namur. The model war zone suggests that male-male pleasure is temporally and materially fluid; the two men revel in erotic energy generated by polychronicity and repurposed objects. All three areas—wound, relationship, and miniature war zone—reveal that queer disability in Tristram Shandy unsettles binaries of male/female, homo/heterosexual, and ultimately abled/disabled through the use of pleasure and the erotic relationship between reader and text. Alternative desires and ruptures to ideological regulations of corporeality emerge through the text's refusal of a "compulsory able-bodiedness." Sterne chooses instead to centralize disability as pleasure.

Upsetting the Balance: Exposing the Myth of Masculine Virtue and Desire in Eliza Haywood's Philidore and Placentia

Mary Beth Harris

By exploring Eliza Haywood's subtle use of the formulaic genre of the romance, her structural use of repetition and textual balance, as well as her engagement with the contemporary neoclassical culture, this essay argues that Philidore and Placentia reveals the seedy motivations underpinning masculine desire. On the surface, Eliza Haywood's 1727 oriental romance follows the development of its hero, Philidore, into a virtuous lover along the path paved by neoclassical values of moderation and balance. However, it is precisely this myth of rational, masculine chivalry that Haywood explodes in her text. The novel ultimately suggests that masculine desire, is not the balance or partner of female passion; rather, it is stimulated by the protection of patriarchal interest, female objectification, and economic power.

On Writing the History of So Much Grief: Cotton Mather's Decennium Luctuosum and the Trauma of Colonial History

Kathleen Kennedy

In 1699 Cotton Mather published his history of King William's War, Decennium Luctuosum. Historians and literary critics have taken note of the bodily violence throughout the text and have argued that the text's rhetorical and rhetoric of violence suggest his anger at Puritan settlers for turning away from Ministerial authority. This study takes a different approach to Decennium Luctuosum by acknowledging the importance of grief in the text. It argues that grief and trauma were key to understanding how Mather attempted to regenerate the Puritan community in the wake of the crisis it experienced in the sorrowful decade of the 1690s.

The Circulation of Political Things

Chloe Wigston Smith

A review of Neil Guthrie, The Material Culture of the Jacobites, a book that examines the print, visual, and material culture of the Jacobite political cause, from 1688 to the end of the eighteenth century, and the varied messages and meanings of personal and commemorative artifacts that expressed sympathy for the exiled Stuart court.

Intellectual History and the Computational Turn

Michael Gavin

Catastrophic Literary Studies

Eric Gidal

James Barry on Art, Freedom, and History Painting

Craig Ashley Hanson

An Empire of Liberty's Evil Necessity: Naval Impressment and the Nature of the Eighteenth-Century British Empire

Aaron J. Palmer