Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Clare Simmon's Popular Medievalism in Romantic-Era Britain
Popular Medievalism in Romantic-Era Britain: Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters
Clare A. Simmons
Palgrave Macmillan, January 2011
ISBN: 978-0-230-10374-0, ISBN10: 0-230-10374-X,
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches, 246 pages, Includes: 5 pgs figs,
Book Hardcover $80.00
Popular Medievalism in Romantic-Era Britain examines ways in which British writers and readers used the idea of the Middle Ages to challenge contemporary political structures and to claim historical national rights at a time when fears that Britain would follow the example of the French Revolution caused the British government to undermine individual and collective rights. Through the consideration of canonical authors such as Blake, Scott, and Wordsworth and of lesser-studied works such as radical press writings and popular drama, this study suggests that the imaginative appeal to the social structures and literary forms of the Middle Ages served as a powerful means of raising awareness of Britain’s past and the tradition of freedom.
Rites and Rights: The Topography of Ancient British Law * The National Melody * Medievalism Onstage in the French Revolutionary Era * The Radical Bestiary * Buried Alive: Gothic Reading and Medievalist Subjectivity * Scottish Lawyers, Feudal Law
Clare A. Simmons is a Professor of English at The Ohio State University. She is the author of Reversing the Conquest: History and Myth in Nineteenth-Century British Literature; Eyes Across the Channel: French Revolutions, Party History, and British Writing 1830-1882; and numerous essays on nineteenth-century British literature. She is the co-editor of Prose Studies and has edited the essay collection Medievalism and the Quest for the “Real” Middle Ages and Charlotte Mary Yonge’s novel The Clever Woman of the Family.
"By investigating the popular medievalism of the Romantic era, Simmons adds an essential and hitherto neglected facet to the continually evolving picture of the reception of medieval culture in postmedieval times. As an important corrective to the widely investigated medievalist reinventions of Romantic and Victorian elites, her study focuses on expressions of medievalism adopted by or accessible to the less privileged classes of British society. Expertly conversant with the longue durée of English responses to the Middle Ages since the beginnings of early modernity, Simmons demonstrates how the increased literacy and interest in political matters among those in skilled occupations as well as those who performed manual labor led to a popular view of a uniquely English continuity between the nation’s present and its medieval past."--Richard Utz, Professor and Chair, Department of English, Western Michigan University