Undergraduate magazines are usually founded because emerging poets and fiction writers need a place to publish their early work. From a few stapled pages read mainly by proud parents and a few friends, the young authors hope to graduate, so to speak, to the literary quarterlies and from there to The New Yorker and a prize-winning hardback collection from Knopf. That’s the theory, anyway.
The Paper Shell Review is a little different. Given that ours is still, as Randall Jarrell called it years ago, “an age of criticism,” this new journal is devoted to scholarly and critical essays. In this inaugural issue one can read about the image of the outlaw in modern Irish literature, the use of punctuation in Emily Dickinson’s poetry, questions of ethnicity and sexuality in Kate Chopin’s fiction, and the impact of British acquisitions in Italian painting on the creation of Walter Pater’s The Renaissance. Those, by the way, are just four of the contributions, but already one sees the range and variety of interpretative approaches adopted by these youthful scholars: the analysis of themes, explication de texte, new historicism, the tracing of influence.
Besides their worth as thoughtful pieces of criticism, such essays also demonstrate the vitality of college English study in the 21st century. The 1950s practiced formal analysis; the 1960s grew excited over myths and archetypes; the 1970s took up Marxism, structuralism and deconstruction, and in the 1980s feminism, queer studies, and other forms of cultural theorizing enlarged our horizons. But during the past 20 years literature departments have shown, quite reasonably, that all these approaches can enrich our understanding of a familiar classic or provide useful ways of shaking up the canon. Of course, love still lies at the heart of all criticism: The good reader is first enraptured—by a poem, story or piece of prose—and that inchoate feeling of delight begets a desire for deeper understanding. The greater the text, the more variously it can be apprehended and appreciated.
Let us welcome, then, The Paper Shell Review as a new forum for young literary scholars. These papers and essays demonstrate that in 2011 serious research, hard thought, and careful critical analysis are all very much alive and kicking.
Department of English, University of Maryland
Editorial Board Leader
- Emily Gorman
- Amanda Ostria
- Abby Shantzis
- Susaana Harris
- Stephanie Knauff
- Sarah Greenberg
- Robert Wolfe
- Deanna Wright
- Katie Harrelson
- Lindsey Anderson
- Evan Higgins
- William Burch
- Johnnie Simpson
- Stephanie Clarke-Graham
- Elizabeth Choy
- Catherine Bayly
Spring 2011 Essays
Art about Art, Art about Life: Woolf, Schwitters, and the Blurred Line between the Arts and Life
The first half of the twentieth century was shorn by war, ripping society in England and across the European continent into fragments that many individuals struggled to bring back together to form a new picture. The period proved to be a cultural collage, as people aimed to reconcile their pasts with their presents to create a future. In no arena was this effort more addressed than in the arts.
Classifying the Renaissance Spirit: The Influence of Nineteenth Century Museum and Science Cultures on Walter Pater's Renaissance
It is tempting to read Walter Pater as a lifeless figure who transcends not only the conditions of the Victorian era he lived in, but also of life itself. It is true that when we sift through the details of his public life we find a man, as Arthur Symons describes, “rarely quite at ease” (102).
Engaging in Ambiguity: Emily Dickinson’s Use of Imagery, Enjambment, and Dashes to Create Multiple Interpretations of Her Poetry
Dickinson’s poetry is filled with moments of ambiguous meaning because she focuses on topics that do not have a definitive interpretation, such as lightning, truth, and the infinite. Nevertheless, Dickinson explores these subjects, not for the purpose of seeking an answer, but for the sake of exploring them. It is because these subjects cannot be defined that Dickinson finds their exploration so essential and focuses on them in her poetry.
From Rebel to Revolutionary: The Evolution of the Irish Outlaw and the Reluctant Irish Revival Author
“The lyricism of marginality may find inspiration in the image of the 'outlaw,' the great social nomad, who prowls on the confines of a docile, frightened order.” – Michel Foucault
Le Bal Est Fini, and Everyone Was Happy
Through the diminutive and traditional world of local cultures in nineteenth century rural Louisiana, the intermingling of Cajun and Creole cultures manifests in Kate Chopin’s works. In At the ‘Cadien Ball and The Storm, Chopin juxtaposes the restraint on sexuality and gender and the restrictions imposed by religion and class through the cultural constraints of the time.