Monthly Archives: September 2017

Announcement: Transatlantic Anglophone Literatures, 1776-1920

Dear colleagues in transatlantic teaching,

We are excited to share the news that Edinburgh University Press will be continuing to support growth in this exciting field of scholarship and pedagogy with publication of an anthology of primary texts.

A five-person editorial team has recently signed a contract to prepare Transatlantic Anglophone Literatures, 1776-1920. Andrew Taylor of Edinburgh University, along with Linda K. Hughes and Sarah R. Robbins of TCU, with associate editors Heidi Hakimi-Hood (a current TCU Ph.D. student) and Adam Nemmers (Lamar University) are already at work, with much-appreciated guidance from a talented advisory board of scholars.

Heidi and Adam were both enrolled in the 2013 seminar offering of  Linda and Sarah  (see our 2013 syllabus here). Students in the 2017 seminar—including our new web manager Sofia Prado Huggins—have given very helpful input to our planning for the project, which has also benefited from having Andrew Taylor visit with us at TCU in spring 2017, thanks to funding from two TCU internal grants.

In addition to familiar literary texts from the Caribbean, Canada, Great Britain, and the US, less well-known genres, authors, and media will be represented, including periodical and newspaper articles, letters, and illustrations.  In all cases, selections will feature not only a transatlantic topic but also an intersection across national borders.

We’ll keep you updated on our progress in the months ahead. We are all well aware that the preparation of anthologies is ambitious and time-consuming work, but we feel fortunate in having an active network of colleagues to offer encouragement, along with our board members. We anticipate a 2020 publication date.

Meanwhile, do visit this web space for updates and, via expanded sections of the website, digital, ready-for-teaching texts that will supplement those to be included in the eventual print anthology.

Advisory Board Members:

Jocelyn Almeida-Beveridge, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Susan Castillo Street, King’s College, London
Clare Elliott, Northumbria University
Christopher Gair, University of Glasgow
Barbara McCaskill, University of Georgia
Ifeoma Nwankwo, Vanderbilt University
Clare Pettitt, King’s College, London
Jessie Reeder, Binghampton University
Joseph Rezek, Boston University
Fiona Robertson, St. Mary’s University, Twickenham
Marjorie Stone, Dalhousie University
Coll Thrush, University of British Columbia
Tom Wright, University of Sussex

The Political Poetess: Victorian Femininity, Race, and the Legacy of Separate Spheres by Tricia Lootens

Hardcover | Published: 2016 | 344 Pages | $45.00 | £37.95 | 6 X 9.25 inches | ISBN: 9780691170312

For those whose interests center on transatlantic nineteenth-century poetry, Tricia Lootens’s The Political Poetess: Victorian Femininity, Race, and the Legacy of Separate Spheres (Princeton UP, 2016) is now essential reading, along with Meredith McGill’s The Traffic in Poems (2008) and Daniel Hack’s Reaping Something New (also 2016).  Her innovative book in fact has relevance for all those who are interested in transatlantic study and research methods.

Rather than viewing the poetess as being in retreat to an apolitical, patriotic private sphere of mourning and praise, Lootens demonstrates that the very premise of a decorous female separate sphere depends on profits resulting from racist violence (viz., slavery and imperial expansion) and is thus inherently riven, haunted, political.  Drawing upon Hegel’s theory of the internal enemy of the state (derived from a reading of Antigone), she also theorizes what she calls “suspended spheres,” “modeling,” according to the author, “a national sentimental ‘private sphere,’ conceived as a violently constructed, uneasily maintained sacred space at the heart of the State. As a realm of mortal subjection, mourning, and failed resistance, this sphere demands femininity’s protection; as a repository for eternal, individual love, it opens out onto eternity, investing feminine demands for the bodies of slain soldiers with a divine authority that supersedes statecraft” (personal communication).

Tricia Lootens also reveals the political poetess in historicist terms, by reading the pervasiveness of what she calls “Abolition time” (still ongoing because not yet fully resolved or remedied), given the deep involvement of multiracial British and American women in abolition  after the 1833 British Abolition act. Combined with her revised “sphere” theory, Lootens thus reframes affective lyrics by women poets as always intrinsically political.  As her own refrain goes, “Who made the Poetess white? No one, not ever.”  In a volume that offers as much to classroom teachers as to scholars, she opens up the poetess figure not only to transatlantic and transnational criss-crossing but also to connections with pressing issues today.

Individual chapters emphasize, among other poets, Felicia Hemans (in the contexts of race, slavery [“Bride of the Greek Isle”]), war [“Casabianca”]); Elizabeth Barrett Browning (in a bravura chapter on her “Curse for a Nation”); and—though reference to Harper threads throughout the book—Frances Harper (whose Aunt Chloe poems Lootens reads against Hemans’s “Switzer’s Wife” and whose oratory Lootens approaches as African American Poetess performance).  In every discussion throughout The Political Poetess, whether broad or highly specific, Tricia Lootens props open her own scholarly “sphere” to transatlantic literature and fundamental issues of social justice.  I enthusiastically recommend her book to all visitors to this site.

–Linda K. Hughes