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Nature, Politics, and the Arts: Essays on Romantic Culture in Honor of Carl Woodring
Edited by Hermione de Almeida
Contributions by Nina Auerbach, John Clubbe, Carl Dawson, William Theodore de Bary, George H. Gilpin, William Carl Gilpin, Jonathan Gross, Regina Hewitt, Steven E. Jones, Marsha Manns, Martin Meisel, Anne K. Mellor, Morton D. Paley, Robert L. Patten, Donald H. Reiman, Ben P. Robertson, Robert M. Ryan, G. Thomas Tanselle, Carol Kyros Walker and Elizabeth Kowaleski Wallace.

This interdisciplinary book honors Columbia professor and New York intellectual Carl Woodring. Ten chapters on Romantic and Victorian literary culture written by leading scholars in the field join in conversation with Woodring’s teachings on literature and visual art and his commentaries on American culture. A multiple-authored chapter of postscripts on the aesthetic range of Woodring’s intellectual interests across cultural disciplines, his contributions to English studies and his informing influence on several generations of scholars, and their areas of interest, follows. A chapter from Woodring's unpublished autobiography, on his childhood in small-town America, then concludes the volume with an ironic retrospection on intercultural origins.

Topics addressed among the chapters include portraiture and self-fashioning, landscape art, physiognomy and caricatures, radical print ephemera, illustrated picaresque verse, social and political satire, traditions of the sublime in art and literature, transatlantic influences and aesthetics, chaos theory and the laws of thermodynamics, the Caribbean slave trade, revolutionary history, Napoleonic wars, the politics of multicultural communities, gender and race, marginalia and textual revelations, Native America, historical interchanges in curating museum shows, and contemporary American sculpture and art. Cultural figures of the nineteenth century that are featured in the discussions include Henry Adams, Beethoven, Blake, Byron, Willa Cather, Thomas Cole, Coleridge, James Fenimore Cooper, George Cruikshank, Ugo Foscolo, Washington Irving, Keats, Willibrord Mähler, George Romney, Rowlandson, Shelley, and Wordsworth.

Chapter essays, commentaries, and Carl Woodring's unpublished writings function together in Nature, Politics, and the Arts: Essays on Romantic Culture for Carl Woodring—with a depth of original perspectives and a multi-voiced and intercultural coherence. The book as a whole testifies to Woodring’s living and intellectually potent legacy for future students of nineteenth-century transatlantic culture and twenty-first century scholarship on literature and art.
January 2015 ISBN: 978-1611495409 $90.00

Octave Mirbeau's Fictions of the Transcendental
by Robert Ziegler
Political firebrand, tireless reformer, champion of the avant-garde, Octave Mirbeau embraced his role as disturber of the peace. Inspired by Kropotkine and Dostoyevsky, Mirbeau became the social conscience of the era, speaking in a clear voice to impugn capitalist ideology, to defend the cause of the worker, the child, the pauper, the prostitute, and the soldier sacrificed as cannon fodder.

Mirbeau's critiques of society seethe with indictments of indoctrinating agencies: the family, which stifled the child's freedom and expressive creativity, the school, which besotted students with the aridity of its curriculum, the army, which privileged patriotism over the sanctity of life, the church, which sanctified suffering, perverted instinct, and alienated the faithful from nature. Yet Mirbeau shared the admiration of fin-de-siècle zealots for the pariahs, tramps, and beggars rehabilitated in the Scripture. The personal trials of the misbegotten became an insignia of election. Those marginalized by society experienced damnation here below yet had glimpses of the bliss they hoped might await them somewhere higher.

Yet it was not just in the less fortunate that Mirbeau sought evidence of the supra-rational. Generally neglected by critics, Mirbeau's interest in the unknown and the inexpressible informed virtually all of his writing and helped shape his views on artistic work and political struggle.

For this reason, this study sets out to analyze the spiritual politics of the author. As Mirbeau was becoming involved in the escalating controversy over the Dreyfus case and cementing his alliance with prominent anarchists, he was also undergoing a uniquely personal spiritual evolution. Here this volume breaks new ground, exploring the author's secular metaphysic, charting his investigation of the spiritually transfiguring experience that redeems man's desolate existence. What begins as Mirbeau's indictment of Catholicism's death-glorifying ethos, his attempt to find refuge from life's pain in the blessedness of Nirvana, becomes a pursuit of mystical diffusion into the community of others. Showing how Mirbeau controverts the existence of a Christian god, this study argues that Mirbeau never abandons his exploration of life's mysteries, apprehensions of the infinite that come from a refinement of his art and an identification with his brothers.
May 2015 ISBN: 978-1611495614 $75.00

The Representation of the Struggling Artist in America, 1800–1865
by Erika Schneider
This book analyzes how American painters, sculptors, and writers active between 1800 and 1865 depicted their response to a democratic society that failed to adequately support them financially and intellectually. Without the traditional European forms of patronage from the church or the crown, American artists faced unsympathetic countrymen who were unaccustomed to playing the role of patron and less than generous in rewarding creativity. It was in this unrewarding landscape that American artists in the first half of the nineteenth century employed the "struggling" or "starving artist" image to criticize the country's lack of patronage and immortalize their own struggles.

Although the concept of the struggling artist is well known, only a select few artists chose to represent themselves in this negative manner. Using works from five decades, Schneider demonstrates how the artists, such as Washington Allston, Charles Bird King, David Gilmour Blythe, represented a larger phenomenon of artistic struggle in America. The artists' journals, letters, and biographies reveal how native artists' desire to create imaginative works came in conflict with American patrons’ more practical interests in portraiture and later in the century, genre work. If artists wanted to avoid financial struggle, they had to learn to capitulate to patrons' demands. This intellectual struggle would prove the most difficult. In addition to the fine arts, the struggling artist type in essays, poems, short stories, and novels, whose tales mirror the frustrations facing fine artists, are also considered.

Through an examination of the development of art academies and exhibition venues, this study traces the evolution of a young nation that went from considering artists as mere craftsmen to recognizing them as important members of a civilized society.
May 2015 ISBN: 978-1611494129 $70.00

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