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Andrew CaytonLove in the Time of Revolution: Transatlantic Literary Radicalism and Historical Change, 1793-1818

University of North Carolina Press, 2013

by Lilian Calles Barger on April 21, 2015

Andrew Cayton

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Andrew Cayton is a distinguished professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In his book Love in the Time of Revolution: Transatlantic Literary Radicalism and Historical Change (University of North Carolina Press, 2013) he has given us a lucid and beautifully written history of the transatlantic relationships among the circle of radical writers that included William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Gilbert Imlay. Caught in the fervor revolutionary change, these free thinkers believing in the goodness of humanity and reason rejected the need for authority, hierarchies, and tradition in preserving social cohesion and wellbeing. Rather, mutuality and open exchange were offered as a better foundation for society. At the intersection of public lives and private desire, they sought to extend their radical vision beyond politics and into their intimate lives through new a model of egalitarian and free relationships between men and women. Deconstructing marriage their writings reflected the protested against the constraints of conventional society. Cayton demonstrates how these radicals embodied a modern interpersonal ethic arising with the liberal free trade in goods and ideas in which the personal was political. How the sexes were to relate to each other changed forever. Differing gendered understanding of "social commerce," between men and women, brought uneven consequences. Relationships founded on freedom, openness and devoid of binding ties beyond reasoned desire could also produce the fruits of a masculinist frame of mind – the tragedy of neglect, abuse, and abandonment experienced by women. Cayton's portrait of Godwin, Wollstonecraft and Imlay changes how we read them and how we understand our modern selves.


Lital LevyPoetic Trespass: Writing Between Hebrew and Arabic in Israel/Palestine

April 6, 2015

Since the beginning of the 20th century, Jewish settlement in Palestine and the revival of Hebrew as a national language have profoundly impacted the relationship between Arabic and Hebrew. In a highly contentious political environment, the two languages have been identified with opposing national movements – Hebrew associated with Jews and Arabic with Palestinians. Lital […]

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Paula T. ConnollySlavery in American Children’s Literature, 1790-2010

March 26, 2015

The “peculiar institution” upon which the US nation was founded is still rich for examination.  Perhaps this is why it is a subject to which 21st century authors continue to return.   In this exploration of slavery, Paula T. Connolly, author of Slavery in American Children’s Literature 1790 – 2010 (University of Iowa, 2013), provides an expansive […]

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Wen JinPluralist Universalism: An Asian Americanist Critique of U.S. and Chinese Multiculturalisms

March 20, 2015

Wen Jin's book, Pluralist Universalism: An Asian Americanist Critique of U.S. and Chinese Multiculturalisms (Ohio State Press, 2012), compares histories and modes of multiculturalism in China and the United States. Whereas many see few correlations between China’s ethnic policies and the multiculturalist policies of the U.S., Wen Jin brings these narratives and histories together to show […]

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Helena GurfinkelOutlaw Fathers in Victorian and Modern British Literature: Queering Patriarchy

March 16, 2015

What is a father? In Outlaw Fathers in Victorian and Modern British Literature: Queering Patriarchy (Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2014), Helena Gurfinkel offers an insightful new vision of fatherhood through an engagement with English literature, Freudian psychoanalysis and queer theory. The book takes a range of authors who have depicted ideas of fatherhood, patriarchal relations and homosociality along with […]

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Mark Dennis and Darren Middleton, eds.Approaching Silence: New Perspectives on Shusaku Endo’s Classic Novel

March 15, 2015

What does it mean to be a martyr? What does it mean to be an apostate? How should we understand people who choose one or the other? These are the questions asked by Shusaku Endo in his novel Silence, in which he tells the story of Japanese Catholics and foreign missionaries during Japan’s “Christian Century” […]

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Robert P. BurnsKafka’s Law: ‘The Trial’ and American Criminal Justice

March 13, 2015

Professor Robert P. Burns of Northwestern University School of Law offers an insightful critique of the modern American criminal justice system in his new work Kafka's Law: 'The Trial' and American Criminal Justice (University of Chicago Press 2014). This interview explores the characteristics of Kafka’s “Law” and exposes where and how these characteristics exist within the […]

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Justin MartinRebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America’s First Bohemians

March 10, 2015

Biography is, both etymologically and in its conventional forms, the writing of a life. But what is the role of place within that? And how do the stories of lives- some of them well known, others less so- realign when we see them through the lens of a particular place? That's Justin Martin's way in […]

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Sarah M. AllenShifting Stories: History, Gossip, and Lore in Narratives from Tang Dynasty China

March 9, 2015

Sarah M. Allen’s new book looks at the literature of tales in eighth- and ninth-century China. Shifting Stories: History, Gossip, and Lore in Narratives from Tang Dynasty China (Harvard University Asia Center, 2014) situates Tang tales in the context of social story exchange among elite men. Allen’s work not only contributes significantly to how we […]

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Daniel TiffanyMy Silver Planet: A Secret History of Poetry and Kitsch

March 6, 2015

Mass-produced, fake, sentimental, easily digestible: when we think of kitsch these elements often come to mind. Furthermore, kitsch is almost always associated with material culture, but in Daniel Tiffany’s new book, My Silver Planet: A Secret History of Poetry and Kitsch (John Hopkins University Press, 2014), the author complicates our notions of kitsch by entangling […]

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