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Yeats wrote about “The Fascination of What’s Difficult.” Each of the essays in this volume embraces difficulty with gusto. There is a desire here to think against received readings, and with fascinating results. Each essay taught me something, and for that I am grateful.

I had not known, for instance, that Milton’s Sin could be traced back to medieval folk tales in which she is figured as a ‘founding mother’ of monarchy. Incest is an open theme in Pericles, but to then have it discovered in King Lear is an arresting — as well as a usefully alarming — act of literary detection. We know that Beckett has little time for conventional notions of sanity, but it is surprising to be shown that in his work “wrongness is not a means to be right, but an achievement in itself.” Whoever thought that Virginia Woolf could deploy the figure of the horse in her sly but inexorable campaign against the worship of the culture of “elite men”? Joyce’s “Araby” is a story I have always loved — many would consider it the greatest very short story in English — and yet I am happily unsettled in my memory of it when it is pointed out that the love-struck narrator refuses even to give Mangan’s sister a name.

So — congratulations are due to these five strong readers as well as to their teachers. I only wish I had been one of them.

David Wyatt
Department of English, University of Maryland

Journal Information


Michael Lawrence

Managing Editor

Emily Tuttle

Managing Editor

Brady Fauth

Layout Editor

Katie Weng

Spring 2015 Editorial Board

Cover Design

  • Eleni Agapis

Editorial Board

  • Paige Goodwin
  • Hannah Meshulam
  • Theresa Park
  • Nora Pelaez
  • Jessica Thwaite
  • Katie Weng

Graduate Student Reader

  • Amy Merritt

Letter From The Editor

My deepest thanks to…

William Cohen, Thomas Moser, and Karen Lewis, for encouraging English undergraduate communities and journals such as these, Amy Merritt, for her invaluable advice and assistance, John Prince and co., for having once again brought this journal to print, David Wyatt, for writing our wonderful introduction, The Center for Literary and Comparative Studies and the Student Government Association, for providing our funding, without which the journal could not be printed, The English Undergraduate Association, for friendly collaboration, The editorial board members, for dedicating their valuable time to reading, analysis, and discussion, Emily Tuttle, for her boundless eagerness to assist and lead, Brady Fauth, for his profound dedication and reliability, Katie Weng, for her commitment and boldness of vision, Eleni Agapis, for offering her own time and talent, Sohayl Vafai, for founding this wonderful journal, Megan Cooley-Klein, whose success last year was a constant source of inspiration, And, finally, to those who have pledged to take The Paper Shell Review into the future.

Most sincerely,
Michael Lawrence
Editor-in-Chief, 2014-15

Spring 2015 Essays

General Essays