English Studies in Canada

Articles from Vol. 39, No. 2-3, June-September

Aesthetics, Value, and the Joy of Imperfections
When I was originally invited to think about imperfections for the accute session, I told a friend about the focus of the panel. Her immediate thought was that I should have a look at the current scholarly work that is being done on failure. My initial...
"As Liuing Now, Equald Theyr Vertues Then": Early Modern Allusions, Boudicca, and the Failure of Monologic Historiographies
Introduction While Elizabeth I rarely encouraged explicit comparisons between herself and martial women of the literary or historical past, (1) brief allusions to and more extended treatments of leaders such as Boudicca are relatively common in...
Cinematographic Imperfection: The Art of Life in Film (on John Huston's the Misfits, 1961)
I would like to address the way movie directors sometimes exploit the life of their actors in the making of their films, playing with their notoriety and known biography to inform the roles in which they are cast. I will base my analysis on John Huston's...
Cutting into Diane Glancy's Ghost Dance
Those of my children who doubt will be left in undesirable places, where they will be lost and wander around until they believe and learn the songs and dances of the ghosts. "I Bring You Word From Your Fathers the Ghosts." Kicking Bear Occasionally...
Everybody Loves Imparfait: Academic Cultures of Imperfection
WHEN TWENTY-TWO-YEAR-OLD JENNIFER LAWRENCE fell On her way up the steps of the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles in February 2013 to accept the Best Actress Oscar, it must have seemed to many of the program's viewers as it did to those in my house that...
Giving the Mundane Its Due: One (Fine) Day in the Life of the Everyday
No, Lytton does not like Mrs Dalloway ... What he says is that there is a discordancy between the ornament (extremely beautiful) and what happens (rather ordinary--or unimportant). Virginia Woolf's Diary 18 June 1925 The country is recovering...
Grappling with Respect: Copway and Traill in a Conversation That Never Took Place
AS TO GHOSTS OR SPIRITS they appear totally banished from Canada," wrote Catharine Parr Traill in what has become one of Canadian literature's most infamous statements. Here there are no historical associations, no legendary tales of those that...
In Memoriam: Rowland McMaster (1928 to 2013)
PROFESSOR ROWLAND MCMASTER died in Edmonton, 20 July 2013. An erudite scholar and teacher of Victorian literature, and a loyal colleague and friend, he made exceptional contributions to scholarship on Dickens, Thackeray, and Trollope, to teaching,...
Mistaken <Begin Strikethrough]plaesures<end Strikethrough] Pleasures
The other day I was explaining to my panelists that although they were accepted for the MLA Special Session I was organizing, the session as a whole would still have to get accepted by "the posers that be"--oops--that should be "powers." Or maybe not:...
On David Bowie's Perfect Imperfection, Circa 1974
HERE I SUGGEST defining imperfection as an event that takes place solely in the public realm. There are no intimate imperfections. In intimacy there is only disappointment. And disappointment is relative to one's self-perception. It takes numerous...
On Lecturing and Being Beautiful: Zadie Smith, Elaine Scarry, and the Liberal Aesthetic
AT THE HEART OF ZADIE SMITH'S PRIZE-WINNING NOVEL, On Beauty, is a strong sense that the humanities today are in a state of crisis: the values of equality and relativism assumed in the principles of liberal education have been outpaced, on one hand,...
Reading for the Other: Lessons from Karen Connelly's the Lizard Cage
IN HUMAN RIGHTS, INC., Joseph Slaughter revises the question in H. G. Wells's book title, The Rights of Man; or, What Are We Fighting For? (1940) into "The Rights of Man; or What are We [Reading] For?" (317). In doing so, Slaughter draws attention...
Reflections on the Nature of Perfection
As I started to think about the concept of perfection and its relationship to the research questions that I am wrestling with these days--personal and cultural responses to climate crisis and resource depletion--I keep coming back to the idea that...
The Queer Art of Imperfection
In the queer art of failure, Judith Halberstam considers the critical potential of aesthetic and cultural moments of failure. She writes, "Under certain circumstances failing, losing, forgetting, unmaking, undoing, unbecoming, not knowing may in fact...
The Tropical Empire: Exotic Animals and Beastly Men in the Island of Doctor Moreau
IN THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU (1896), H. G. Wells spares none of his characters. If there are no fully human characters in this post-Darwinian novel, then there are also no heroes in this story of imperial collapse working against the grain of those...
The World after Progress: The Thomas Browne of W. G. Sebald
THE LATE TWENTIETH-CENTURY PROSE FICTION of the German writer W. G. Sebald is noted for its novelty and strangeness, even, and perhaps especially, by readers of the English translations (Long 3-4). The work translated into English as The Rings of Saturn:...
Why Read?
Traditional defences of literary culture, like Sidney's, Shelley's, and Arnold's, are deployed against the zealotries of puritanism and commercial utilitarianism. The existence of such a conference as this, suggesting that literacy is yet again under...