Literature and Theatre

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Many women in the period leading up to the outbreak of the Great War could lay claim to a history of opposition. In the evening of August 4, 1914, during the final hours of peace, a meeting was held at Kingway Hall in London in order to discuss the position of women and the women's movement with regard to the rapidly approaching conflict. This meeting marked a confluence of some of the various leading women's organisations of the day such as the Women's Co-operative Guild, the Women's Freedom League, the Women's Labour League, the National Federation of Women Workers and the sponsor of the meeting, the large National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies. This chapter focuses on some of the women who had expressed opposition to the Great War, including Catherine Marshall, Helen Bowen Wedgwood, Sarah Macnaughton, Evadne Price, Enid Bagnold, Mary Agnes Hamilton and Mabel St Clair Stobart.

in A war of individuals
New writers, new literatures in the 1990s
Editors: Gill Rye and Michael Worton

The 1990s witnessed an explosion in women's writing in France, with a particularly exciting new generation of writer's coming to the fore, such as Christine Angot, Marie Darrieussecq and Regine Detambel. This book introduces an analysis of new women's writing in contemporary France, including both new writers of the 1990s and their more established counter-parts. The 1990s was an exciting period for women's writing in France. The novels of Louise Lambrichs are brilliant but troubling psychological dramas focusing on the traumas that inhabit the family romance: incest, sterility, the death those we love and the terrible legacy of mourning. The body of writing produced by Marie Redonnet between 1985 and 2000 is an unusually coherent one. The book explores the possibility of writing 'de la mélancolie' through focusing on the work of Chantal Chawaf, whose writing may be described as 'melancholic autofiction', melancholic autobiographical fiction. It places Confidence pour confidence within Constant's oeuvre as a whole, and argues for a more positive reading of the novel, a reading that throws light on the trajectory of mother-daughter relations in her fiction. Christiane Baroche was acclaimed in France first as a short-story writer. Unable to experience the freedom of their brothers and fathers, beur female protagonists are shown to experience it vicariously through the reading, and the writing of, narratives. Clotilde Escalle's private worlds of sex and violence, whose transgressions are part of real lives, shock precisely because they are brought into the public sphere, expressed in and through writing.

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Bertrand Russell was just one man largely thinking and acting alone – and therein rests his reputation. But to what extent – whether in private or public – did similar anti-war concerns to those of Russell and the Bloomsbury Group express themselves among the intelligentsia? In common with Russell, E. M. Forster believed the Great War to be partly due to misdirected destructive energies; forces that could be channelled during times of peace into creative efforts. In his letter to Siegfried Sassoon, he explained that his other hope for the future, though ‘very faint’, was for a League of Nations. This was a hope that Forster shared with both his frequent correspondent Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson and with other intellectuals such as the writer and ruralist Edward Carpenter. The emotional response of Carpenter and Dickinson to the war was matched by that of Henry James. In contrast with James, the dry, precise tone of George Bernard Shaw provided perhaps the most prominent intellectual commentary of his time on the war's ebb and flow.

in A war of individuals
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In our search for reflections of aesthetic response to the Great War across barriers of experience, the soldier, poet and author Richard Aldington is a good example of John Galsworthy's identification of the human spirit under the pressure of a seemingly mechanised military existence (the ‘herd of life’). He introduces a series of creative men who actually donned a uniform at some stage (though not always willingly) and fought at the front. Gerald Brenan was another fledgling writer in uniform who, like Aldington, felt his soul threatened by the strictures of war. Unlike Brenan, the poet Max Plowman declared his anti-war feelings and suffered a court martial. For Plowman and others, the experience of being within the war machine acted both as a compass towards and a justification of his later anti-war stance. Two further examples of this process concerned possibly the most celebrated poets of the war: Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. Robert Graves's concern was with the outward effect of an anti-war protest on the very individuals whom Siegfried Sassoon was supposedly trying to influence.

in A war of individuals
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Nonreading in late-medieval England

Considering the role of nonreading through the lens of digitally-inspired object-oriented theory that focuses on assemblages and relations within networks, this chapter argues that, when letters or books are more valuable for nonreading, their meanings, and the ways in which readers participate with them, change. This change affects books even in moments of reading, for it highlights their ever-present potential to act and be used in ways contrary to how writers might want them to work. Analyzing the role of nonreading through its literary instantiations in scenes like that from the Wife of Bath’s Prologue, and in manuscripts where readers draw or inscribe their names, encompasses acts of participation that resist and critique modes of participatory reading like those studied in previous chapters. In this way, nonreading could shift books into alternative networks, and highlights how medieval readers could take charge and make books and reading work for themselves.

in Participatory reading in late-medieval England
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Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and John Lydgate’s Troy Book

This chapter begins with an exploration of an overlook aspect of the widespread medieval humility topos, used by Chaucer, Lydgate, and other late medieval writers. Far from simply expressing humility, the topos is often also used to invite readers to correct the text, thus laying the groundwork for a discourse of participatory reading in late medieval England. This chapter argues that emendation invitations represent an act of participatory reading demonstrating affinities with today’s crowd-sourced editing practices, and shows how Chaucer, Lydgate, Thomas Norton and William Caxton, alongside other writers, turned to the emendation invitation in ways that sheds light on how they anticipated and attempted to control their readers and their readers’ participatory reading practices.

in Participatory reading in late-medieval England
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Reading practices and participation in digital and medieval media

The introduction lays the groundwork for Participatory reading by examining how participation and interaction are understood today in digital media, then assessing how reading practices involve acts of participation, creating the basis for assessing participatory reading in late medieval England. In addition, this chapter scrutinizes the benefits of developing a study tracing affinities between the medieval and the digital.

in Participatory reading in late-medieval England
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The Orcherd of Syon, Titus and Vespasian, and Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes

This chapter compares how the invitation to read nonlinearly, familiar in hypertext media today and made explicit in The Orcherd of Syon, is used to elicit and to represent reading practices across late medieval English secular as well as devotional literary works that also include Titus and Vespasian and John Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes, in explicit, implied, and hybridized ways. In addition, the discourse evoked by invitations to read nonlinearly illuminates how medieval writers conceived of their readers as agentive participants in the work of textual interpretation. Finally, nonlinear reading gives rise to concepts traced across subsequent chapters, relying as it does upon a discourse of mobility, space, and temporality.

in Participatory reading in late-medieval England

Reorienting the narrative of digital media studies to incorporate the medieval, Participatory reading in late-medieval England traces affinities between digital and medieval media to explore how participation defined reading practices and shaped relations between writers and readers in England’s literary culture from the late-fourteenth to early sixteenth centuries. Traditionally, print operates as the comparative touchstone of both medieval and digital media, but Participatory reading argues that the latter share more in common with each other than either does with print. Working on the borders of digital humanities, medieval cultural studies, and the history of the book, Participatory reading draws on well-known and little-studied works ranging from Chaucer to banqueting poems and wall-texts to demonstrate how medieval writers and readers engaged with practices familiar in digital media today, from crowd-sourced editing to nonlinear apprehension to mobility, temporality, and forensic materiality illuminate. Writers turned to these practices in order to both elicit and control readers’ engagement with their works in ways that would benefit the writers’ reputations along with the transmission and interpretation of their texts, while readers pursued their own agendas—which could conflict with or set aside writers’ attempts to frame readers’ work. The interactions that gather around participatory reading practices reflect concerns about authority, literacy, and media formats, before and after the introduction of print. Participatory reading is of interest to students and scholars of medieval literature, book, and reading history, in addition to those interested in the long history of media studies.

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The wall texts of a Percy family manuscript and the Poulys Daunce of St Paul’s Cathedral

This chapter examines how texts painted onto walls in the Percy family’s principal estates of Leconfield and Wressel, preserved in the British Library manuscript Royal 18 D.ii, and in the mural of the danse macabre installed in a cloister at medieval St. Paul’s Cathedral in London invite consideration of the relationship between architecture, text, and image within and without the manuscript space. By turning to digital media theorists focusing on space, particularly those addressing architecture and embodied space, this chapter argues that the wall texts in their architectural frames elicit participation from readers whose bodies become the framers of knowledge as they move through and read the different estate spaces provided with wall texts.

in Participatory reading in late-medieval England