Friday, July 09, 2010

Friday, July 09, 2010 12:04 am by M. in , ,    No comments
The new issue of Brontë Studies (Volume 35, Issue 2, July 2010) is already available online. We provide you with the table of contents and abstracts:
Villette in Context

Editorial
pp. iii-iv(2) Author: Jung, Sandro

Articles

Empty Letters and the Ghost of Desire in Charlotte Brontë's Villette
pp. 95-106(12) Author: Jackson, Rachel
Abstract:
'Nothing could be worse for the work of mourning, than confusion or doubt: one has to know who is buried and where', writes Jacques Derrida in Spectres of Marx. This paper offers a reading of Charlotte Brontë's Villette and its depiction of haunting, letters and desire through the context of M. Paul's uncertain death at the end of the novel. Using Derrida's notion of spectral ambiguity and the impossibility of knowledge posed by the ghost, I situate the obfuscation of M. Paul's death as a primal scene informing upon the text as a whole; offering a hindsight which underwrites Lucy Snowe's fixation with the perpetual frustrations and losses of erotic desire. I would suggest that this sense of bereavement manifests itself in Lucy's repeated correlation between letters and haunting, and the shared syntax of desire through which she interprets the lacuna permeating both. To Lucy, letters come to stand in the place of bodies and this misreading of the displaced Other prefigures her response to the 'ghost' nun. Both letters and the ghost thus become dialectical in creating the traffic of confused readings instigated by M. Paul's forever absent body, and the haunted 'counter-knowledge' fixed by the text's ultimate, final recalcitrance to pronounce dead or alive.

Ambivalent Desires in Charlotte Brontë's Villette and Grace Aguilar's Vale of Cedars
pp.
107-117(11) Author: Klein, Kathrine
Abstract
My paper argues that religious tolerance in Charlotte Brontë's novel Villette (1853) and Grace Aguilar's novel The Vale of Cedars; or, the Martyr (1850) translates into a desire for the other. The anti-Catholic sentiment of both narratives is well established: Charlotte Brontë articulates the threats English Protestants felt from 'Papal aggression', while the Anglo-Jewish writer Aguilar uses the Spanish Inquisition to show that, like the English, Jews have been persecuted by Catholics. Both authors, however, express a more complicated engagement with Catholicism, suggesting through their heroines that sensual desire is the product of toleration and self-realization. The Catholic Other in each novel is an ambivalent attraction for the heroine. On the one hand, Lucy Snowe is charmed by Catholic devotion, manifested in Paul Emanuel. On the other, she is repulsed by Catholic practice, manifested in Madame Beck. For Marie Morales, sexual desire is at odds with religious devotion and patriarchal authority. While her husband legally possesses her body, her Catholic lover governs her desire, making her sexually transgressive. It is only her platonic desire for Queen Isabella that makes acceptable Marie's longing for the Catholic Other. Villette and Vale explore religious otherness and mediate sexual longing in mid-Victorian England.

From Pasha to Cleopatra and Vashti: The Oriental Other in Charlotte Brontë's Villette
pp.
118-127(10) Author: Ramli, Aimillia Mohd
Abstract

Critics have argued that Jane's engagement with the Orient in Jane Eyre (1847) is grounded in the vocabulary of her role as liberator and the discourse of female slavery and male domination as represented by the use of the harem metaphor in the text. Yet little is said about how this same metaphor exposes in Villette (1853) the ambivalence inherent in the construction of a Western character that has been invaded by the so-called menacing influences of the Orient. In the novel, the Oriental familial institution of the harem is figuratively and literally seen as a contaminant that poses a threat to a racial and gendered colonial British character. It suggests that this contamination destabilizes this character, blurring the line that divides both East and West, fantasy and reality, and argues that the Oriental institution of the harem, the artistic representations of women as illustrated by the Orientalist portrait of Cleopatra and the actress playing Vashti and, finally, M. Paul, represent the different ways in which this character is gendered and orientalized.

Charlotte Brontë's Textual Relics: Memorializing the Material in Villette
pp.
128-136(9) Author: Crowther, Kathryn
Abstract
Charlotte Brontë's ambivalence towards her role as an artist and a writer in the literary marketplace manifests itself in Villette as a desire to memorialize the labour of writing through the production of textual relics: books, letters or collections of documents which are isolated and treasured for their materiality. The textual relic, I argue, reifies a narrative desire to reinstate the materiality of the original text; it bears the trace of the writer's body through its handwriting and thus represents the authentic connection of the original text to the author. It stands, therefore, in opposition to the lost materiality of the infinitely reproducible text which is produced by the commodified literary marketplace.

Charlotte Brontë, Mary Taylor, and the 'Redundant Women' Debate
pp.
137-148(12) Author: Fenton-Hathaway, Anna
Abstract
Two years before Charlotte Brontë published Villette, the 1851 British Census reported an 'excess' of over 400,000 'redundant women', a population imbalance that philanthropists and pundits were frantic to resolve. This essay contextualizes Villette within the debate that followed. Charlotte Brontë's private correspondence with her childhood friend Mary Taylor, conducted after Taylor emigrated to find employment abroad, reflects the public debate's greatest tensions, and this essay argues that Charlotte Brontë and Mary Taylor extend the conversation in their novels. In Villette, Lucy Snowe's narrative contortions indicate that any generalized claim, whether feminist or anti-feminist, is equally harmful to the individual (a subtle jab at Taylor's feminist proclamations). Taylor's Miss Miles (1890) features a more frank dissection of female 'redundancy'. The critical premium on psychological complexity that has increased Villette's status has relegated the simpler Miss Miles to literary obscurity, yet both novels deserve renewed attention for their insight into the 'redundant women' debate.

Perception and the Suppression of Identity in Villette
pp.
149-159(11) Author: Haller, Elizabeth K.
Abstract
Lucy Snowe, the primary character of Charlotte Brontë's Villette, unobtrusively surveys events, observes reactions, studies character all as a means of obtaining involvement without being an active participant. In this veiled existence Lucy can experience life but at a safe distance, in shadow, where 'unobserved I could observe' (V, p. 156). However, I contend that it is as a direct result of her silent surveillance, of her unassuming presence, that she is drawn into each occasion of action in her life. Lucy admits that she is incapable of provoking change on her own behalf: 'To sit still in actual circumstances was my instinct […] I must be stimulated into action. I must be goaded, driven, stung, forced to energy' (V, pp. 290, 42). Indeed, Lucy is consistently goaded into action both by circumstance and by false perception. Ultimately, the forced pretence of her shadowy existence serves as a defence mechanism against the agony of deprivation.

Curiosity, Surveillance and Detection in Charlotte Brontë's Villette
pp.
160-171(12) Author: Jung, Sandro
Abstract
The article offers a contextualization of female curiosity by relating it to different characters who, in the course of Villette, adopt a criminal, sexual and clinical gaze and use it as a tool to make sense both of gendered and normative reality; I will discuss their self-fashioning in the light of — and as a response to — the constraints of the strictly patrolled and inquisitive patriarchal and religious community at the Pensionnat and in Villette as a whole. In reading the system of surveillance and detection at the Rue Fossette, I will relate questions of the marketability of commodified knowledge and a pseudo-scientific reliance on phrenology to Lucy Snowe's successful negotiation of this society by participating in an economics of love which remains untouched by the moral taint of espionage and the invasion and tradable uses of privacy.

Reviews pp. 172-179(8)

Review Article
Ohio University Press Free Downloads in Victorian Studies
pp. 180-183(4) Author: Doughty, Terri
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