Lynch 2015

From Whiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Deidre Lynch, Loving Literature: A Cultural History, U Chicago Press, 2015.

"I aim to suggest why self-reflection on our ways of knowing will not suffice when we seek to assess English professors’ characteristic mode of practicing humanist study: I aim to honor, instead, the central role that affective labor—our ways of feeling, then, as well as knowing—has been assigned within English studies, and I aim to consider how through our cooperation with that assignment we have come to inhabit a profession that is paradoxically beholden to statements of personal connection." (1)

odd intimacy of the professional study of English literature

"Collectively these chapters aim to outline how since its late eighteenth-century/ early nineteenth-century reinvention, also the inaugural moment of its disciplinization, “English literature” has always been something more than an object of study, even for the architects of that disciplinization. It has also been implicated in its audiences’ libidinal dramas and in their understandings of their families and their erotic histories—hence English studies’ eccentric relation to the norms of publicness and impersonality that seem to govern other knowledge-producing occupations." (5)

"My emphasis falls instead on how the rearrangements of the discursive field that produce a new idea of literature for the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries also represent a watershed in the history of the emotions and intimate life. To an extent that previous work on the historicity of literature fails to acknowledge, the foundational texts of criticism, aesthetic theory, and literary history and biography that were generated during these decades were inflected by the imperatives of a long era of sensibility." (6)

shift from literature in general to imaginative works demanding attention/love

"Literature so defined emerges, as Trevor Ross’s 1998 history of canonicity outlined, when an earlier “rhetorical culture” in which texts had served as instruments of social power, and old texts had been valued only as a backdrop to ongoing cultural production, began to give way to a cultural arrangement centered on “appreciation”: on the close, historically sensitive but tasteful reading of “classics,” or on a devoted engagement with contemporary writers of genius who (as geniuses, a breed apart) occupied an aesthetic realm positioned at a distance from worldly conflicts." (9)

"the canon has mediated the relationships that define home" (11)

"many accounts we have of the professionalization of literary study and criticism are incomplete without a consideration of literature’s personalization and the practices and institutions of reading by which it was supported" (12)

3. Wedded to books

"One defining artifact of this era’s culture of literary appreciation was the homemade manuscript anthology—a compilation of original poetry and prose mixed with hand-copied extracts from published sources sometimes augmented with clippings from newspapers and periodicals; amateur watercolor landscapes (sometimes souvenirs of travels); imaginary portraits of characters from novels or poems (especially Walter Scott’s); pastel pictures on rice paper achieving a tremendous level of zoological/botanical accuracy of sea shells, butterflies, and/or flowers; various other specimens of fashionable feminine accomplishments, decoupage and flower and fern pressing included; locks of hair; memorial cards paying homage to the recently deceased. This mixed-media medley, put between covers, formed a book that was often known as an “album,” the rubric that the era’s vendors of ornately bound blank books favored. Some compilers, however, dignified and customized their books with titles of their own coining—for example, “The Poetical Farrago,” “Memorials of Friendship,” “Medley, or Scrapbook,” “The Leisure Hours Amusement of a Young Lady,” “Cabinet of Music, Poetry, and Drawing." (137)

"The reason to include this pastime, highly popular by the third and fourth decades of the nineteenth century, within the account of the literary affections offered by this chapter is that through it hundreds of female votaries of taste gained access to some of the enjoyments catered to within the bibliomaniac’s library—the pleasures connected with accumulation and appropriation, for instance, with a creativity detached from the exigencies of originality. The amateur anthologist scales down the book collection to fit within the confines of a single bijou volume. Like the book collector, she brings into being a space whose allure lies in its balancing between exclusivity and sharing, concealment and display. The shelves that present the books to the visitor’s eye are crucial to the book collection, but the books arrayed upon them are closed and preserve their secrets. The blank books sold to would-be compilers of albums sometimes came with locks." (138)

"Where the rare-book collector, as we saw, shows off his virtuoso ability to reach into odd corners of the print world and obtain copies of the books that can be treated as though they were handwritten originals, the lady assembling her album likewise displays her ability to reformulate print culture’s accustomed ordering of the relations of the mass produced and the individuated. In the pages of her paper cabinet, the printed poem that a certain author once wrote is turned back into manuscript again. The conversion represents an essential part of its displacement from the realm of public discourse into that of private feeling." (139)

women made cut/paste anthologies, men extraillustrated

Dyce-Hoe Shakespeare

"What affiliated the extra-illustrated book with the lady’s album filled with copied-out beauties from published authors was their makers’ shared insistence on conceiving of the books they bought or borrowed as remaining open to revision and as spurring their own acts of authorship." (140)

"Extra-illustration depends on a kind of close reading, after all: like a philologist, the extra-illustrator weighs every word. The copying out of extracts into one’s album, appropriative to be sure, also enhances intimacy with the copied text." (141)

"It is possible to view those albums of extracts as documenting, by extension, just how often nineteenth-century readers understood themselves as taking authors’ parts—not doing battle against authors, as per Lamb’s description of importunate ladies besieging and storming, but instead taking authors’ sides and doing them service. The manuscript commonplace book of the nineteenth-century Scotswoman Eliza Graeme, for instance, pointedly amasses anecdotes from publishing history that exemplify booksellers’ stinginess in their dealings with authors." (141)