Literally. We just found out that Phil Ford, one of the authors in our just-released Weird Scholarship virtual issue, is also the co-host of the podcast Weird Studies, whose most recent show is “On Ishmael Reed’s ‘Mumbo Jumbo,’ or, Why We Need More Magical Thinking.”
For more on our virtual issue (available free for a limited time), visit Representations at UC Press. And check out the the full roster of episodes from Phil Ford and co-host, J. F. Martel, at Weird Studies.
Of the many cross-disciplinary and topical strands that have emerged from nearly forty years of Representations in print, one stands out: a kind of research that perhaps originated in the journal’s pages and remains difficult to find elsewhere–what might fondly be called “weird scholarship.” We invite you to dip into a virtual issue featuring some of the most representative examples in this vein, available free of charge for a limited time.
The essays selected for this virtual issue highlight examples from the early years of Representations, by which the contours of New Historicism became known, and many examples from more recent issues, which show how the conversation among disparate discourses has born strange and wonderful fruit.
Table of Contents
Terry Castle. The Female Thermometer, no. 17, 1987
István Rév. In Mendacio Veritas (In Lies There Lies the Truth), no. 35, 1991
Nathaniel Mackey. Other: From Noun to Verb, no. 39, 1992
Elaine Scarry. On Vivacity: The Difference Between Daydreaming and Imagining Under-Authorial-Instruction, no. 52, 1995
Michel Zink. Nerval in the Library, or The Archives of the Soul, no. 56, 1996
Jessica Riskin. Eighteenth-Century Wetware, no. 83, 2003
Sue Waterman. Collecting the Nineteenth Century, no. 90, 2005
Phil Ford. Taboo: Time and Belief in Exotica, no. 103, 2008
Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby. Negative-Positive Truths, no. 113, 2011
Carolyn Steedman. Cries Unheard, Sights Unseen: Writing the Eighteenth-Century Metropolis, no. 118, 2012
D. Vance Smith. Fallacy: Close Reading and the Beginning of Philosophy, no. 140, 2017
We are sad to report the death, yesterday, of Geoff Nunberg, the well-known linguist and commentator, who was a keen and valued voice on the Representations editorial board for many years. He will be much missed.
Terry Gross of Fresh Air remembers him fondly on the NPR website. And a short memory from Mark Liberman, along with many comments, is featured on the Language Log.
In recognition of the impact of Covid-19 on campus instruction and the rise of unplanned distance learning, UC Press is pleased to make Representations and all of its online journals content free to all through June 2020.
Who Are Vera and Tatiana? The Female Russian Nihilist
in the Fin de Siècle Imagination
The Lower Criticism
The Medium Concept
“True Wit Is Nature”: Wimsatt, Pope, and the Power of Style
Upcoming in Representations 151: Kathryn Crim on Jen Bervin’s Silk Poems, Ian Duncan on Darwin’s aesthetic science, Danielle Simon on Italian television, Paulina Hartono on the sound of Chinese Communist radio, and Todd Olson on zoological osteology and art-historical method in early twentieth-century France. Available in August.
Reviewers for the prize noted the essay’s “smart, well-structured, interdisciplinary argument and use of game theory” and its engagement with “the under-theorized nature of Austen’s ‘economy of writing.’” One reviewer noted: “I think Banerjee’s reading intervenes in an impressive number of critical conversations (about Austen’s style, narrative time, realism) and cuts across different kinds of methodologies (formal, historical, theoretical), in a clear, compelling, and even exciting way.” Another described how the essay “uses innovative methodologies to take on big ideas and develops them with real clarity and significance.”
Of the essay, Banerjee herself writes: “By proposing a quantitative game-theory model of the marriage plot in Jane Austen’s Emma, the essay demonstrates that free-market moral philosophy underwrites Austen’s representation of matrimony and key formal elements of her writing—particularly, matters of verbal profusion. Her famed stylistic ‘economy’ is revealed to be structured by the emerging capitalist economy that Adam Smith theorized in The Wealth of Nations. Establishing the correspondences among several kinds of economy, the essay unites economic and formal approaches to Austen’s work.”
TRISHA URMI BANERJEE received her PhD in English from Harvard University and is now based in Paris. “Austen’s Equilibrium” derives from her second book project, which uses economic modeling and theory to understand the “economics” of narrative language and structure.
Representations‘s Shorter Formats
Representations has long been known for its rigorous and substantial scholarly articles. But flying lower under the radar are our shorter interventions, published occasionally as Field Notes and Untimely Reviews.
Field Notes, brief commentaries on the state of the disciplines, have been appearing in the journal periodically over the last decade. These short essays typically arise in response to specific current issues in the intellectual arena. Recent Field Notes include Bernard Stiegler’s essay “The Digital, Education, and Cosmopolitanism” and Brianne Cohen’s “Slow Protest in the Occupation of Cambodia’s White Building.”
Now, in our most recent issue, we’ve launched our first Untimely Review, a new feature for reengaging with important critical works of the past, with Whitney Davis’s “Triple Cross: Binarisms and Binds in Epistemology of the Closet.”
We welcome submissions in either of these categories–and, of course, we continue to welcome submissions of full-length articles as well. See our submission guidelines.
From University of California Press:
In recognition of the impact of coronavirus on campus instruction and the rise of unplanned distance learning, University of California Press is pleased to make Representations and all of their online journal content free to all through June 2020.
See UC Press’s full list of journals.
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About UC Press: University of California Press is one of the most forward-thinking scholarly publishers in the nation. For more than 125 years, it has championed work that influences public discourse and challenges the status quo in multiple fields of study. At a time of dramatic change for publishing and scholarship, UC Press collaborates with scholars, librarians, authors, and students to stay ahead of today’s knowledge demands and shape the future of publishing.
by Roger Mathew Grant
In his second book, Roger Mathew Grant offers a new way of thinking through affect historically and dialectically, placing contemporary affect theory in relation to an overlooked historical precursor—European music theory of the eighteenth century. Struggling to explain how music could move its listeners without imitation (as a painting might), theorists of that period developed a “materialist theory of vibrational attunement.” Carolyn Abbate describes Peculiar Attunements as a “tour-de-force” that provides “a formidable and extraordinarily clear-headed critique of affect theory, while at the same time identifying and then demystifying its strange affinities with eighteenth-century theories about music’s power.”
Grant’s work on affect theory’s antecedents in eighteenth-century music theory appears in Representations 144, in the article “Music Lessons on Affect and Its Objects.”
Roger Mathew Grant is Associate Professor of Music at Wesleyan University and the author of Beating Time and Measuring Music in the Early Modern Era (Oxford, 2014), which won the 2016 Society for Music Theory Emerging Scholar Award.
by Christopher Herbert
James Eli Adams calls Christopher Herbert‘s new book “powerfully original,” offering “a foundational and provocative revisionary account of one of the central narratives of modern British cultural history: the ‘moral revolution’ associated with the rise of evangelicalism in the eighteenth century.” This contribution from a major literary critic incorporates a revised excerpt from Herbert’s 2002 Representations article “Vampire Religion.“
The Novel in the Age of Evolution
by Ian Duncan
A major rethinking of the European novel and its relationship to early evolutionary science
The 120 years between Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones (1749) and George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871) marked both the rise of the novel and the shift from the presumption of a stable, universal human nature to one that changes over time. In Human Forms, Ian Duncan reorients our understanding of the novel’s formation during its cultural ascendancy, arguing that fiction produced new knowledge in a period characterized by the interplay between literary and scientific discourses—even as the two were separating into distinct domains.
Duncan focuses on several crisis points: the contentious formation of a natural history of the human species in the late Enlightenment; the emergence of new genres such as the Romantic bildungsroman; historical novels by Walter Scott and Victor Hugo that confronted the dissolution of the idea of a fixed human nature; Charles Dickens’s transformist aesthetic and its challenge to Victorian realism; and George Eliot’s reckoning with the nineteenth-century revolutions in the human and natural sciences. Modeling the modern scientific conception of a developmental human nature, the novel became a major experimental instrument for managing the new set of divisions—between nature and history, individual and species, human and biological life—that replaced the ancient schism between animal body and immortal soul.
The first book to explore the interaction of European fiction with “the natural history of man” from the late Enlightenment through the mid-Victorian era, Human Forms sets a new standard for work on natural history and the novel.
Part of the book’s chapter 5, “George Eliot’s Science Fiction,” was first published in Representations 125.
Ian Duncan is professor and Florence Green Bixby Chair in English at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of the Representations editorial board. His books include Scott’s Shadow: The Novel in Romantic Edinburgh (Princeton).