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.
Department of English, University of Maryland
- Eleni Agapis
- Paige Goodwin
- Hannah Meshulam
- Theresa Park
- Nora Pelaez
- Jessica Thwaite
- Katie Weng
Graduate Student Reader
- Amy Merritt
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.
Spring 2015 Essays
Sin, Mother of Monarchy? Medieval Allegory and Republican Polemic in Milton’s Paradise Lost
For characters that appear only briefly within Paradise Lost, Sin and Death have caused a surprisingly large amount of academic controversy. During the eighteenth century, critics considered them an ‘aesthetic flaw’ (White Jr, 337-341); even today, from whatever lens critics view the pair, they never seem to fit.
The Impossible Figure of Woman in ‘Araby’
What is in a name? In the realm of literature, its absence has the power to silence the voice, suppress the identity, and impose passivity upon the character. The anonymous character occupies a negative space, functioning as an “abstract ‘Other’ whose concrete and tangible distinction is unintelligible, unknowable, inarticulable, and inarticulate” (Frye 996). Historically, anonymity has been employed as a tool of oppression in the gender politics of the unnamed character.
The Trouble of Incest in Shakespeare’s Late Plays: King Lear and Pericles
Pericles has been viewed until recent critical history as a solid member of Shakespeare’s ‘romances’, plays which combined both tragic and comic elements. However, more informed recent discussion of the late plays has acknowledged the danger in attempting at all to apply a set genre to this group of plays.
“I believe we must have the sort of power over you that we’re said to have over horses”: Virginia Woolf, Feminism, and Horses
‘I believe we must have the sort of power over you that we’re said to have over horses. They see us three times as big as we are or they’d never obey us. For that very reason, I’m inclined to doubt that you’ll ever do anything even when you have the vote.’ (Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out)