Aus unseren Neuerwerbungen – Anglistik 2021.2


Jane Austen and William Shake­speare: a love affair in lit­er­a­ture, film and per­for­mance
This vol­ume explores the mul­ti­ple con­nec­tions between the two most canon­i­cal authors in Eng­lish, Jane Austen and William Shake­speare. The col­lec­tion reflects on the his­tor­i­cal, lit­er­ary, crit­i­cal and filmic links between the authors and their fates. Con­sid­er­ing the impli­ca­tions of the pop­u­lar cult of Austen and Shake­speare, the essays are inter­dis­ci­pli­nary and com­par­a­tive: rang­ing from Austen’s and Shakespeare’s biogra­phies to their pres­ence in the mod­ern vam­pire saga Twi­light, pass­ing by Shake­speare­an echoes in Austen’s nov­els and the authors’ after­lives on the improv stage, in wartime cin­e­ma, mod­ern biopics and crime fic­tion. The vol­ume con­cludes with an account of the Exhi­bi­tion “Will & Jane” at the Fol­ger Shake­speare Library, which lit­er­al­ly brought the two authors togeth­er in the autumn of 2016. Col­lec­tive­ly, the essays mark and cel­e­brate what we have called the long-stand­ing “love affair” between William Shake­speare and Jane Austen—over 200 years and count­ing.
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Sys­tems fail­ure: the uses of dis­or­der in Eng­lish lit­er­a­ture
How eigh­teenth-cen­tu­ry writ­ers stretched sys­tems designed to explain social rela­tions to their break­ing point, show­ing the flaws in their design.
The Enlight­en­ment has long been understood—and often under­stood itself—as an age of sys­tems. In 1759, Jean Le Rond d’Alem­bert, one of the archi­tects of the Ency­clopédie, claimed that „the true sys­tem of the world has been rec­og­nized, devel­oped, and per­fect­ed.“ In Sys­tems Fail­ure, Andrew Fran­ta chal­lenges this view by explor­ing the fas­ci­na­tion with fail­ure and obses­sion with unpre­dictable social forces in a range of Eng­lish authors from Samuel John­son to Jane Austen.
Fran­ta argues that attempts to extend the Enlightenment’s sys­tem­at­ic spir­it to the social world prompt­ed many promi­nent authors to reject the idea that knowl­edge is syn­ony­mous with sys­tem. In read­ings of texts rang­ing from nov­els by Sterne, Smol­lett, God­win, and Austen to Johnson’s lit­er­ary biogra­phies and De Quincey’s peri­od­i­cal essays, Fran­ta shows how writ­ers repeat­ed­ly take up civ­il and cul­tur­al insti­tu­tions designed to ratio­nal­ize soci­ety only to reveal the weak­ness­es that inevitably under­mine their orga­ni­za­tion­al and explana­to­ry pow­er.
Diverg­ing from influ­en­tial accounts of the rise of the nov­el, Sys­tems Fail­ure auda­cious­ly reveals that, in addi­tion to rep­re­sent­ing indi­vid­ual expe­ri­ence and social real­i­ty, the nov­el was also a vehi­cle for think­ing about how the social world resists attempts to explain or com­pre­hend it. Fran­ta con­tends that to appre­ci­ate the pow­er of sys­tems in the lit­er­a­ture of the long eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry, we must pay atten­tion to how often they fail—and how many of them are cre­at­ed for the express pur­pose of fail­ing. In this unrav­el­ing, lit­er­a­ture arrives at its most pen­e­trat­ing insights about the struc­ture of social life.
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