New College Associate Professor of English, Miriam Wallace, Publishes Two New Books

(June 15, 2009) – -Miriam Wallace, associate professor of English at New College of Florida, has published Revolutionary Subjects in the English ‘Jacobin’ Novel, 1790-1805 (Bucknell University Press) and Enlightening Romanticism, Romancing the Enlightenment: British Fiction 1750-1830 (Ashgate).

Wallace received her B.A., with distinction, from Swathmore College and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She teaches the British Novel and Literary Theory, with a particular interest in feminist and gender theories. She has written scholarly articles and in 2004 edited Memoirs of Emma Courtney and Adeline Mowbray or, The Mother and the Daughter.

Ashgate provides this synopsis of Enlightening Romanticism, Romancing the Enlightenment: British Fiction 1750-1830:

“As eighteenth-century scholarship expands its range, and disciplinary boundaries such as Enlightenment and Romanticism are challenged, novels published during the rich period from 1750 to 1832 have become a contested site of critical overlap. In this volume, scholars who typically write under the rubric of either the long eighteenth century or Romanticism examine novels often claimed by both scholarly periods. This shared enterprise opens new and rich discussions of novels and novelistic concerns by creating dialogue across scholarly boundaries. Dominant narratives, critical approaches, and methodological assumptions differ in important ways, but these differences reveal a productive tension. Among the issues engaged are the eighteenth-century novel’s development of emotional interiority, including theories of melancholia; the troubling heritage of the epistolary novel for the 1790s radical novel; tensions between rationality and romantic affect; issues of aesthetics and politics; and constructions of gender, genre, and race. Rather than positing a simple opposition between an eighteenth-century Enlightenment of rationality, propriety, and progress and a Romantic Period of inspiration, heroic individualism, and sublime emotionality, these essays trace the putatively ‘Romantic’ in the early 1700s as well as the long legacy of ‘Enlightenment’ values and ideas well into the nineteenth century.”

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Bucknell University Press says this about Revolutionary Subjects in the English ‘Jacobin’ Novel, 1790-1805:

“An innovative and well-researched study, Revolutionary Subjects in the English Jacobin Novel explores the question of subject-formation and rights discourse in English novels of the 1790s. Ostensibly celebrating the rights-bearing subject, the radical novels also questioned the limits of universalist conceptions. Including works by men and women, and those normatively identified as radical alongside others considered more conservative of even “anti-Jacobin,” this work examines efforts to represent political consciousness in readers across a reformist continuum. Efforts to expand the citizen-subject in this period threatened to reveal the cost implicit in accessing subjectivity on universal terms. Wallace argues that subversive narrative strategies in fictions, including William Godwin’s Things As They Are (1794), Robert Bage’s Hermsprong (1796), and Amelia Opie’s Adeline Mowbray (1805) undercut and question the sovereign subject modeled as the ideal republican radical subject, and describe a discourse that is not always in line with the work’s overt “moral.” If the concept of human rights appears both necessary and inadequate in 2007, it was likewise problematic in the revolutionary 1790s.”

“In writing Revolutionary Subjects I was struck again and again by parallels between current debates about how political or even artistic speech and writing should or should not be constrained and similar problems for 1790s Britain–both inspired by the principles of the French Revolution and terrified by its events,” commented Wallace. “It fascinates me that a large group of writers of both genders and across the political spectrum saw novels as having a real role to play in thinking about how the family and the nation ought to function. As for the edited collection, there’s a great range of ways of thinking about not just literary period but how and why we categorize artistic work and ways of thinking about the world, and some of the consequences of creating those categories.”

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