Showing posts with label art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art. Show all posts

Saturday, 28 May 2016

The Encyclopedia of the Gothic - Review

“Infinity made imaginable.”

A review of The Encyclopedia of the Gothic (2016), edited by William Hughes, David Punter and Andrew Smith. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 978-1-119-06460-2. (880 pages).

     The general editors (William Hughes, David Punter and Andrew Smith) begin their Introduction to The Encyclopedia of the Gothic by employing the now well-known story of the Chinese encyclopedia, popularized by Jorge Luis Borges and by Michel Foucault in The Order of Things (1970). Although they choose to employ the definite article in their chosen title, their enlightened emphasis on ‘provisionality’ hints at the struggle with the ‘epistemologically firm structure of an encyclopedia’ (p. xxxiv). Indeed, the evidence of diversity and the proliferation of resources [FN1] on gothic appears to challenge the possibility of constructing an encyclopedia in fixed media. Fortunately, the online version will provide an opportunity to interact with the suggestions of readers in order to cope with ‘an ever evolving genre’ (p. xxxviii). Nonetheless, the print version marks an excellent opportunity to take stock of the current state of play in gothic studies and to critically survey this gargantuan domain of academic research.

     In one sense, it might be proposed that academic canonicity originates in the authority and the legitimacy of scholars recruited to the project. In addition to the esteemed general editors the reviewer counted some 40 professors amongst the 131 contributors writing on 244 topics. It is also reassuring for the health of the subject that many early career scholars have joined forces with the influential writers who have been transforming the theoretical directions of Gothic studies since the 1980s.

     In short, it’s a highly impressive and monumental effort of collaborative scholarship. I do not envy the task of the editors who must bear the burden of their judiciousness: what to include, what to exclude. Digging deeper reveals that there are underlying narratives and a sense of shared assumptions about the Gothic project and approaches to reflecting on the diverse phenomena conceptually and theoretically.  Given that the gothic genre is not confined to a canon of literary texts the critical project is all the more arduous and the monster of possibility spreads out in all directions. Gothic has become a global project, national and transnational in its replication and migration. As if nodding to the academic industry that has fuelled the dissemination of gothic the editors kindly offer an entry at the centre of their encyclopedia around which all other entries circulate: the International Gothic Association (IGA), whose inaugural conference was held at the University of East Anglia in 1991. Incidentally, two of the general editors, Andrew Smith and William Hughes, are co-presidents of the International Gothic Association, and the latter is also the founding editor of Gothic Studies, the refereed journal of the International Gothic Association.

     It is rather impertinent to question whether a book of this kind is really needed when so much is already available elsewhere, and more material than ever is available on open access. Indeed, the IGA website ( is a useful place to start. Google Scholar throws up 442,000 references to ‘gothic’ so it’s undoubtedly very helpful to have some guidance to refine the search terms. Certainly this volume compares well with a range of other histories, guides, and companions that have been designed to cater for the undergraduate market. It’s obviously also a safe place to start for students who want to research a specific topic, or to improve their awareness of key themes, concepts, and theoretical approaches. The editors have managed to meet the need for accessibility without falling into the trap of a gross over-simplification of complex ideas. Entries range in length from a thousand words, up to five thousand for ‘period’ surveys. The general policy of the editors has been to offer a survey of the gothic field that covers ‘periods, places, people and media.’ (p. xxxvii) Short bibliographies accompany each entry, together with cross-references. A well-constructed traditional index also helped this reviewer to track down more minor topics that I had deemed to have been missed out.

     Comparison with the much demonised Wikipedia reveals the value of having an erudite collection of short articles that serve as a trusted introduction to key topics in the field of Gothic studies. In terms of geography there are well-informed entries on the regional, national, or wider traditions: African American Gothic (Carol Margaret Davison), American Gothic (Charles L. Crow), Anglo-Caribbean Gothic (Carol Margaret Davison), Asian Gothic (Katarzyna Ancuta), Australian Gothic (Ken Gelder), Canadian Gothic (Faye Hammill), Dutch Gothic (Agnes Andeweg), European Gothic (Francesca Billiani), French Gothic (Terry Hale), Japanese Gothic (Katarzyna Ancuta), Jewish Gothic (Ruth Gilbert), New England Gothic (Faye Ringel), New Zealand Gothic (Timothy Jones), Russian Gothic (Neil Cornwell), Scandinavian Gothic (Yvonne Leffler), Scottish Gothic (Carol Margaret Davison), Southern [US] Gothic (Meredith Miller), and Welsh Gothic (Jane Aaron); but curiously British Gothic and English Gothic are omitted as self-standing entries. One assumes that these categories were sufficiently represented elsewhere, like a background noise that is unnoticed, or a torture to which we have so long submitted that we no longer feel the pain of its presence. (I note that Wikipedia has an entries on ‘Tasmanian Gothic’ and ‘Southern Ontario Gothic’; whereas the Encyclopedia offers ‘Fin-de- siècle Gothic’ (Emily Alder) Wikipedia supplements with an entry on ‘Mal du siècle’.)

     The notion of transnationalism and the migration of Gothic tropes and narratives is evidently becoming more urgent as a focus for international scholarship and collaboration. In this regard David Punter’s entry on ‘Theory’ notes: ‘it involves the constant contact, now prevalent more than ever before because of the globalized spread of cultural interchange, between Western textualities and “indigeneous” folktales and related material.’ (692) Undoubtedly the traffic is multi-dimensional and therefore the encyclopedic projects of a Western intelligentsia and the habits of cultural consumers need to be constantly alerted to the notion of the key role of ‘provisionality’ and ‘interaction’ previously noted.

     Psychoanalytic and other theoretical approaches to Gothic are well served in this volume, perhaps revealing the interest of the general editors and the academic readership that the book targets. Taking a lead from Dale Townshend’s The orders of Gothic: Foucault, Lacan and the subject of Gothic writing, 1764-1806 (2007) David Punter’s entry on ‘Theory’ notes that theory ‘does not have to bifurcate into, on the one hand, purely historical study and, on the other, an attempt to demonstrate “universal” aspects.’ (692)

     Many entries bear the bite marks of the kiss of theory and most are commendable for their clarity and accessibility; examples include:  Abjection (Elisabeth Bronfen); Blood (William Hughes); Commodity Gothicism (Tricia Lootens); Criticism (William Hughes); Cryptonymy (Cynthia Sugars); Doubles (Dale Townshend); Environment (Gregg Garrard); Female Gothic (Diana Wallace); the Grotesque (Maria Parrino); Liminality (Katie Garner); Monstrosity (Jerold E. Hogle); Phobia (Anthony Mandal); Poststructuralism and Gothic(Julian Wolfreys); Psychoanalysis (Roger Luckhurst); Queer Gothic (Max Fincher); Sex (Ruth Anolik); Spectrality (Julian Wolfreys); the Sublime (Max Fincher); the Uncanny (Anneleen Masschelein) and Zombies (Fred Botting). All entries pay lip service to a theoretical approach but it would not be kind to assert, or to give the impression, that a theory-driven agenda dominates and overwhelms other kinds of critical appreciation and historical enquiry. In this case, the gothic church is highly accommodating and tolerant.

     Curiously, the entry on Future Gothic (Nema Montezero) appears without any References or Further Reading. Is that the Shape of Things to Come? Media topics are represented by entries on popular TV, Film (Stephen Carver), Games (Tanya Krzywinska); Radio (Richard  J. Hand), and many more. The longest entries (up to five thousand words) in The Encyclopedia of the Gothic tend to be devoted to the surveys of periods and movements. These entries provide a convenient route for students who are embarking on the study of the gothic for the first time and who need a judicious summary rather than an awesome monograph. Given the high cost of downloading academic articles, it is evident that a modest investment in a resource such as The Encyclopedia of the Gothic clearly represents excellent value for undergraduates, independent scholars and general readers. The theoretical approaches will also prove an essential resource for those seeking to engage with current academic research on the gothic.

Ian McCormick, M.A.(St Andrews), PhD (Leeds).

FN1: 'Nobody ever complains of having too little to read, as Richard Fisher, the managing director of Cambridge University Press’s academic division, has put it at many conferences.' See Martin Paul Eve, Open Access and the Humanities: Contexts, Controversies and the Future. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

  • Abjection
  • Abyss
  • Adultery
  • African American Gothic
  • Aickman, Robert
  • Ainsworth, William Harrison
  • Alcohol
  • American Gothic
  • Amityville
  • Angel
  • Anglo-Caribbean Gothic
  • Anti-Semitism
  • Apparition
  • Architecture, Gothic
  • Asylums
  • Atwood, Margaret
  • Australian Gothic
  • Avatar

  • Barker, Clive
  • Baudelaire, Charles
  • Beckford, William
  • Benson, E. F.
  • Bierce, Ambrose
  • Blackwood, Algernon
  • Blood
  • Bluebooks
  • Braddon, Mary Elizabeth
  • Brite, Poppy Z.
  • Brown, Charles Brockden
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Bulwer-Lytton, Edward
  • Burger, Gottfried
  • Burton, Tim
  • Byron, George Gordon, sixth Baron

  • Cabell, James B.
  • Campbell, Ramsey
  • Campus Gothic
  • Canadian Gothic
  • Carter, Angela
  • Coleridge, Samuel Taylor
  • Collins, Wilkie
  • Colonial Gothic
  • Comic Gothic
  • Comics and graphic novels
  • Commodity Gothic
  • Confession
  • Coover, Robert
  • Corelli, Marie
  • Counterfeit
  • Crime
  • Criticism
  • Cronenberg, David
  • Crowley, Aleister
  • Cryptonymy
  • Cult Fiction
  • Cults, Gothic
  • Curse

  • Dacre, Charlotte
  • Davis, M. E. M.
  • De Quincey, Thomas
  • de Sade, Marquis
  • Degeneration
  • Dickens, Charles
  • Disability
  • Domestic Gothic
  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor
  • Doubles
  • Drama
  • Dream
  • Drugs
  • du Maurier, Daphne
  • Dutch Gothic

  • Editorship
  • Ellis, Bret Easton
  • Environment
  • European Gothic

  • Family
  • Fate
  • Faulkner, William
  • Female Gothic
  • Film, Gothic
  • Folklore and Gothic
  • Freeman, Mary Wilkins
  • French Gothic
  • French Gothic Film
  • Friday the 13th
  • Future Gothic

  • Games
  • German Expressionism
  • German Gothic
  • Ghost Stories
  • Gilman, Charlotte Perkins
  • Godwin, William
  • Goth
  • Gothic 1900 to 1950
  • Gothic 1950 to the Present
  • Gothic Revival Architecture
  • Graveyard Poetry
  • Grotesque, The

  • Halloween
  • Hammer
  • Hawthorne, Nathaniel
  • Herbert, James
  • Hill, Susan
  • Hoffmann, E. T. A.
  • Hogg, James
  • Hope-Hodgson, William
  • Horrid
  • Horror Fiction
  • Hypnotism

  • Imperial Gothic
  • Incest
  • Inheritance
  • Inquisition
  • International Gothic Association, The
  • Intertext
  • Ireland, William Henry
  • Irish Gothic

  • Jackson, Shirley
  • James, Henry
  • James, M.R.
  • Japanese Gothic
  • Jewish Gothic

  • Kafka, Franz
  • King, Stephen
  • Kipling, Rudyard

  • Lathom, Francis
  • Law and the Gothic
  • LeFanu, Sheridan
  • Lemoine, Ann
  • Lesbian Gothic
  • Lewis, Matthew
  • Liminality
  • Lovecraft, H. P.
  • Lugosi, Bela

  • Macabre, The
  • MacDonald, George
  • Machen, Arthur
  • Magazines
  • Manga
  • Marsh, Richard
  • Masks, Veils and Disguises
  • Matheson, Richard
  • Maturin, Charles 
  • McCabe, Patrick
  • McCarthy, Cormac
  • McGrath, Patrick
  • Mediumship
  • Melodrama
  • Melville, Herman
  • Misogyny
  • Modernism
  • Monster Movies
  • Monstrosity
  • Mummy
  • Music

  • Necromancy
  • New England Gothic
  • New Zealand Gothic
  • Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Nordier, Charles

  • O’Connor, Flannery
  • Oates, Joyce Carol
  • Occultism
  • Odoevsky
  • Opera

  • Penny Dreadfuls
  • Phobia
  • Poe, Edgar Allan
  • Poison
  • Polidori, John
  • Popular Culture
  • Portraiture
  • Postcolonial Gothic
  • Postmodern Gothic
  • Poststructuralism and the Gothic
  • Protestantism
  • Psychical investigation
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Psychological Thrillers

  • Queer Gothic

  • Race
  • Radcliffe, Ann
  • Radio
  • Reeve, Clara
  • Reynolds, George
  • Rice, Anne
  • Rohmer, Sax
  • Roman Catholicism
  • Romanticism
  • Rosicrucianism
  • Ruins
  • Russian Gothic

  • Scandinavian Gothic
  • Schiller, Friedrich
  • Science and the Gothic
  • Scottish Gothic
  • Secret Histories
  • Secret societies
  • Sensation Fiction
  • Sensibility
  • Sex
  • Shelley, Mary
  • Shelley, Percy Bysshe
  • Shilling Shocker
  • Sinclair, May
  • Slasher movies
  • Slavery
  • Southern Gothic
  • Spectacle
  • Spectrality
  • Spiritualism
  • Stevenson, Robert Louis
  • Stoker, Bram
  • Straub, Peter
  • Sturm und Drang
  • Sublime, The
  • Suburban Gothic
  • Supernatural, The

  • Taboo
  • Tales of Terror
  • Teaching Gothic
  • Technologies
  • Teenage Gothic
  • Tegg, Thomas
  • Television
  • Terror
  • Theory and Gothic
  • Thompson, Alice
  • Translation
  • Twilight

  • Uncanny, The
  • Urban Gothic

  • Vampire fiction
  • Victorian Gothic
  • Village Gothic
  • Voodooism

  • Walpole, Horace
  • Wells, H. G.
  • Welsh Gothic
  • Werewolf
  • Wharton, Edith
  • Wheatley, Dennis
  • Wilkinson, Sarah
  • Williams, Tennessee
  • Witchcraft
  • Wordsworth, William

  • Zombies


Aaron, Jane University of Glamorgan UK
Alder, Emily Edinburgh Napier University UK
Ancuta, Katarzyna Assumption University of Thailand Thailand
Anderweg, Agnes Maastricht University Netherlands
Anolik, Ruth Villanova University USA
Armitt, Lucie University of Salford UK
Bak, John S. Nancy Université France
Balmain, Colette
Barlett, Mackenzie

Bennett, Mark
Berthin, Christine Universite Paris Quest France
Billiani, Francesca University of Manchester UK
Billingham, Peter
Blake, Linnie Manchester Metropolitan University UK
Botting, Fred University of Lancaster UK
Bronfen, Elisabeth Englisches Seminar Switzerland
Byron, Glennis University of Stirling UK
Campbell, James University of Stirling UK
Carver, Stephen Norwich School of Art and Design UK
Carver, Stephan University of East Anglia UK
Chaplin, Susan Leeds Metropolitan University UK
Chromik, Anna Institute of English Cultures and Literatures
Collins, Richard Louisianna State University USA
Cologne-Brookes, Bath Spa University UK
Conrich, Ian Birkbeck College, University of London UK
Cooper, Andrew Georgia Institute of Technology USA
Crow, Charles
Curl, James Stevens
Daly, Nick University College Dublin ROI
Davison, Carol Margaret University of Windsor Canada
Edwards, Justin University of Surrey UK
Fincher, Max
Fischer, Benjamin Franklin
Foley, Matt Stirling University UK
Franklin, Caroline Swansea University UK
Freeman, Nick Loughborough University UK
Garrard, Greg Bath Spa University UK
Gelder, Ken University of Melbourne Australia
Germana, Monica University of Westminster UK
Gibson, Matthew
Gilbert, Ruth
Hale, Terry Hull University UK
Hammill, Faye University of Strathclyde UK
Hand, Richard J. University of Glamorgan UK
Hartnell-Mottram, Elaine Liverpool Hope University UK
Heholt, Ruth Falmouth University UK
Hoeveler, Diane Long Marquette University USA
Hogle, Jerrold University of Arizona USA
Hollington, Mike

Horner, Avril  Kingston University UK
Huang, Chiung-ying Bristol University UK
Hughes, William Bath Spa University UK
Inouye, Charles Tufts University USA
Jones, Tim Victoria University fo Wellington New Zealand
Joshi, S T

Kahan, Jeffrey
Killeen, Jarlath Trinity College Dublin ROI
Krzywinska, Tanya Brunel University UK
Leffler, Yvonne University of Gothenburg Sweden
Lippert, Conny University of Bristol UK
Lloyd, Rebecca Falmouth University UK
Lootens, Tricia University of Georgia USA
Luckhurst, Roger Birkbeck College, University of London UK
Mandal, Anthony Cardiff University UK
Mason, Diane
Masschelein, Anneleen Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Belgium
McClure, Nancy
McDowell, Stacey University of Bristol UK
McEvoy, Emma University of Westminster UK
McWilliams, Ellen Bath Spa University UK
Menegaldo, Gilles University of Poitiers France
Meyers, Helene Southwestern University USA
Michasiw, Kim York University Canada
Milbank, Alison Nottingham University UK
Miles, Robert University of Victoria Canada
Miller, Meredith Falmouth University UK
Monk, Nicholas University of Warwick UK
Mousoutzanis, Aris
Mulvey, Roberts University of the West of England UK
Munford, Becky Cardiff University UK
Murname, Barry Martin-Luther  University UK
Ni Chonaill, Siobhan University of Cambridge UK
Nordius, Janina University of Gothenburg Sweden
O'Gorman, Farrell De Paul University USA
O'Keefe, Ciaran

Owen, Tomos Cardiff University UK
Packham, Jimmy University of Bristol UK
Palmer, Paulina
Parrinder, Patrick University of Reading UK
Parrino, Maria Bristol University UK
Peach, Linden Edge Hill University UK
Pittard, Christopher Newcastle University UK
Pittock, Murray University of Glasgow UK
Potter, Franz National University USA
Powell, Anna Manchester Metropolitan University UK
Punter, David University of Bristol UK
Purinton, Marjean Texas Tech University USA
Purves, Maria Lucy Cavendish College UK
Raghunath, Anita Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam The Netherlands
Redford, Catherine University of Bristol UK
Ringel, Faye U.S. Coast Guard Academy USA
Roberts, Marie Mulvey University of the West of England UK
Round, Julia Bournemouth University UK
Royle, Nicholas
Ruddell, Caroline St Mary's University College UK
Sage, Vic University of East Anglia UK
Sausman, Justin Birkbeck College, University of London UK
Scahill, Andrew University of Texas at Austin USA
Scullion, Val
Smith, Andrew University of Glamorgan UK
Smith, Andy W. University of Wales, Newport UK
Spooner, Catherine Lancaster University UK
Stelle, Ginger University of St Andrews UK
Stephanou, Aspasia University of Stirling UK
Stoddard Holmes, Martha California State University USA
Sugars, Cynthia University of Ottawa Canada
Talairach-Vielmas, Laurence Universite de Toulouse II France
Thomas, Ardel City College of San Francisco USA
Thompson, Douglass H. Georgia Southern University USA
Townshend, Dale University of Stirling UK
Voller, Jack Southern Illinois University USA
Wallace, Diana University of Glamorgan UK
Warwick, Alex University of Westminster UK
Watson, Rory University of Sterling UK
Weinstock, Jeffrey Central Michigan University USA
Whatley, John Simon Fraser University Canada
Wheatley, Helen University of Warwick UK
Williams, Anne
Willis, Martin University of Glamorgan UK
Wisker, Gina University of Brighton UK
Witchard, Anne University of WestminsterUK UK
Wolfreys, Julian Loughborough University UK
Worrall, David Nottingham Trent University UK
Wright, Angela University of Sheffield UK
Wright, Elizabeth Bath Spa University UK
Wright, Angela University of Sheffield UK
Zapp, Andrea Manchester Metropolitan University UK
Zlosnik, Sue Manchester Metropolitan UK

Thursday, 30 October 2014

"Thou Art Translated"

Piero di Cosimo, The discovery of honey by Bacchus (1499)

Book Review

A Handbook to the Reception of Ovid. Edited by John F. Miller and Carole. E. Newlands. Wiley-Blackwell. 2014. 520pp. £120 (Cloth). £96.99 (ebook)

‘Antiquity is a closed system, providing a canon of texts whose perfection is beyond time: criticism of these texts is an eternal return, the rediscovery of the timeless verities that they contain.’ [....] No one, of course, has ever really believed this nonsense.’ (Fowler, 1994: 231)

This new collection of thirty-one essays explores how Ovid’s works have presented a range of ways of thinking and feeling about desire, love and death; power and aggression; exile and alienation; self-reflexivity and transformation; aesthetic traditions and the artist’s journey. Clearly, the universality of Ovid’s major themes and preoccupations helps to explain his major influence on the arts of the two millennia since his death. As a result, it is not difficult to understand why he has had a such a significant influence on the Western cultural tradition – from literature to opera, and from art to film. The sheer variety and adaptability of Ovid’s writings  helped him to become one of the major figures in classical literature. The wonderful transmission of his work suggests that he should be central to what E.D Hirsch has  called our ‘cultural literacy.’ This volume shows the canonical range of that literacy, through Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden, Pope (and many others) to passing popular cultural references that persist in ‘iconic’ films ranging from  Raymond Chandler and Howard Hawks’s The Big Sleep (1946) to Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999). The Handbook will send the general reader back to Ovid with eyes wide open, and more alert to the intricacy of the poetry, and to the wonder of the subject matter. While the delightful burden of the past predominates, there are many culturally literate references on the glittering surface of the contemporary fields of gold.

Cultural literacy, far from being tradition for its own sake, shows that Ovid still speaks directly to present interests. In the past we have had romantic Ovids, classical Ovids, moral Ovids, rude and rebellious Ovids; arguably, he is what any reader will make of him in the act of reception, and in the context of a relative distance from the variety of original Ovids, still sparkling at the ‘source.’ The reception of Ovid springs from the relativity of reader’s approaches, and also from the layers of reception that filter and obscure, or enlighten and surprise. They playful ambiguity of Ovid’s poetic textures and phases of development entail multiple readings of the source texts and within the transformative playfulness of transformation. Given the situation outlined in these opening remarks, one the benefits of multiple-author approaches in a critical handbook of this type is that a wide range of receptions can be accommodated rather than an ideological limitation of vision, or an analytical narrowness of critical frame.

As a result of the variety of themes that emerge from the poetry it makes sense to construct different Ovids that can be shaped and adapted in different ways according to the spirit of the age. The reception of the poetry may spring from a discovery of the plenitude of the subject matter, such as the weaving of myths in the Metamorphoses and the varied approaches to love. Others have found inspiration in the imitation of his style and approach to topics; again, the key word is variety. Where one reader finds a pre-figuring of Troubadour, and later romantic or modern sensibilities, another finds gritty and cynical psychological realism. Ovid’s style draws the reader closer to the emotional drama but also pulls back with playful and ironic detachment.  This is the logic of seduction and also of exile, recurring themes in Ovid’s work and perhaps inextricably woven into his life story.

In fact, Ovid typically exceeds any of the systems and categorisations that seek to hold him in place for more than a passing moment. He is the most slippery and transformative of poetic creatures. He did not fit in with the official ideology of Augustan society; but the moment we want to run with the rebels we need to be quickly reminded that he poignantly sought and begged to return from the tortures of an enforced exile. Thus it becomes possible to think of Ovid as the exponent of Augustan values and also their most profound critic. These fault lines in the life and times of the poet find many echoes in the after-tremors of his reception. This means that within successive periods it is possible to propose information generalizations then also require various forms of qualification in order to accommodate the underlying variety of Ovid’s poetry. This does not mean that there is not, in a sense, a distinctive voice or mode, that we can call Ovidian. Indeed, he sounds different, and self-consciously wants to be set apart from his predecessors and contemporaries; moreover, this reflection seems to hold no matter how much he draws imitatively and parasitically on their achievements. The Ovidian corpus/opus is as profoundly natural as it is enigmatically artificial.

The Handbook is at its thinnest on the early nineteenth century; the strengths are in the renaissance, restoration and ‘Augustan’ period when the gravitational pull of the Ovidian universe was at its strongest. One of the strengths of these chapters (14 top 25) is that they individual offer the delightful sense of creative cross-fertilizations, critical transformations, and dialogical histories. The open spirit of reception also means that the linear narrative of medieval allegory/ morality, for instance, can be challenged and disrupted, in favour of more nuanced and more inspired readings. The tension between contemporary domestication, proto-feminist liberation, moral censure and aesthetic delight are no where more evident than in various receptions experienced by Ovid throughout the early modern period and the long eighteenth-century.

The fatal triangle of fetishism, voyeurism, and misogyny that presents a challenge to modern readers of ‘enlightened’ writers will inevitably discover those same issues coming up in their reading of the critical literature on Ovid. Classical studies have come a long way since the ‘pioneering’ work of Pomeroy on gender and Foucault on ‘epistemic’ shifts. (See Brooke Holmes, 2012); similarly, the ideological formulations of Ellen Pollak and Laura Brown (on Swift and Pope), perhaps require as much rethinking as the misogynistic simplifications that they were attacking.

The critical problems are present at the source as much as they are in precluded (or prioritised) in the transitions. This collection of essays steers clear of large helpings of theory — whether of the feminist, or post-structuralist approach. That is a potential weakness for the Handbook, in my view, given the attempt to accommodate the solid ground of the early-moderns alongside the shifting sands of the postmodern. I would have liked a chapter on rape and aggression, for instance, considered as both a theme and a narrative, that accommodates both the scholarship and the theories that condemn and that defend Ovid’s approach to such an important issue. My readings of classical scholarship have taught me that the investigation of gender and sexuality by classicists has been both evaded and foregrounded in the last thirty years. The chapter on cinema, at the end of the book, for instance, might have alerted us to the significance of the ‘male gaze’, whether it’s the primary narcissism of culture or the power politics from Lacan to Laura Mulvey. I would also have liked a philosophical chapter on reception that offered a survey of critical issues cropping up in the theoretical field of translation studies; perhaps specifically related to the Ovidian transmission of cultural values. (See Venuti, 2012).

Undoubtedly many readers will, like me, find themselves devouring this volume on the first reading and then coming back for more — perhaps as they did in their younger days, on first discovering the delights of the Metamorphoses. Despite some of my theoretical hankerings this Handbook to the Reception of Ovid is an erudite and magisterial collection of essays that will delight those who already belong to the School of Ovid, and will be a generous introduction and trusted guide for those encountering the great poet’s work for the first time. While readers will also want to consult works by Doody (1985), Hopkins (2010), Oakley-Brown (2006) and Martindale (1988) — among many others, too numerous to list — this new Handbook is highly recommended as a scholarly introduction to the reception of Ovid.

Dr Ian McCormick. Birmingham, UK. 30th October 2014.
[This review was first published on]


Illustrations ix
Notes on Contributors xi
Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction 1
Carole E. Newlands and John F. Miller

1 Ovid s Self–Reception in His Exile Poetry 8
K. Sara Myers

2 Modeling Reception in Metamorphoses: Ovid s Epic Cyclops 22
Andrew Feldherr

3 Ovidian Myths on PompeianWalls 36
Peter E. Knox

4 Ovid in Flavian Occasional Poetry (Martial and Statius) 55
Gianpiero Rosati

5 Poetae Ovidiani: Ovid s Metamorphoses in Imperial Roman Epic 70
Alison Keith

6 Ovid in Apuleius Metamorphoses 86
Stephen Harrison

7 A Poet between TwoWorlds: Ovid in Late Antiquity 100
Ian Fielding

8 Commentary and Collaboration in the Medieval Allegorical Tradition 114
Jamie C. Fumo

9 The Mythographic Tradition after Ovid 129
Gregory Hays

10 Ovid s Exile and Medieval Italian Literature: The Lyric Tradition 144
Catherine Keen

11 Venus s Clerk: Ovid s Amatory Poetry in the Middle Ages 161
Marilynn Desmond

12 The Metamorphosis of Ovid in Dante s Divine Comedy 174
Diskin Clay

13 Ovid in Chaucer and Gower 187
Andrew Galloway

14 Ovid s Metamorphoses and the History of Baroque Art 202
Paul Barolsky

15 The Poetics of Time: The Fasti in the Renaissance 217
Maggie Kilgour

16 Shakespeare and Ovid 232
Sean Keilen

17 Ben Jonson s Light Reading 246
Heather James

18 Love Poems in Sequence: The Amores from Petrarch to Goethe 262
Gordon Braden

19 Don Quixote as Ovidian Text 277
Frederick A. de Armas

20 Spenser and Ovid 291
Philip Hardie

21 Ovidian Intertextuality in Ariosto s Orlando Furioso 306
Sergio Casali

22 Joy and Harmles Pastime : Milton and the Ovidian Arts of Leisure 324
Mandy Green

23 Ovid Translated: Early Modern Versions of the Metamorphoses 339
Dan Hooley

24 Ovid in Restoration and Eighteenth–Century England 355
James M. Horowitz

25 The Influence of Ovid in Opera 371
Jon Solomon

26 Ovid in Germany 386
Theodore Ziolkowski

27 Ovid and Russia s Poets of Exile 401
Andrew Kahn

28 Alter–Ovid Contemporary Art on the Hyphen 416
Jill H. Casid

29 Contemporary Poetry: After After Ovid 436
Sarah Annes Brown

30 Ovid s Biography : Novels of Ovid s Exile 454
Rainer Godel

31 Ovid and the Cinema: An Introduction 469
Martin M.Winkler

Index 485


Doody, M.A. (1985). The Daring Muse: Augustan Poetry Reconsidered.

Fowler, Don. (1994). ‘Postmodernism, Romantic Irony, and Classical Closure.’ Modern Critical Theory and Classical Literature,  edited by Irene J. F. De Jong, J. John Patrick Sullivan. 231-256.

Holmes, Brooke. (2112). Gender: Antiquity and Its Legacy.

Hopkins, D. (2010). Conversing with Antiquity: English Poets and the Classics, from Shakespeare to Pope. (Classical Presences).

Martindale, C. (ed) (1988). Ovid Renewed: Ovidian Influences on Literature and Art from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century.

Mulvey, Laura. (1975). ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.’ Screen 16 (3): 6–18.

Oakley-Brown, L. (2006). Ovid and the Cultural Politics of Translation in Early Modern England.  (Studies in European Cultural Transition)

Pomeroy, S. B. (1975). Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity.

Venuti, L. (Ed.). (2012). The Translation Studies Reader.

Dr Ian McCormick. Birmingham, UK. 30th October 2014.


John F. Miller is the Arthur F. and Marian W. Stocker Professor of Classics and Chair of the Department of Classics at the University of Virginia. His publications include Apollo, Augustus, and the Poets (2009) and Ovid’s Elegiac Festivals: Studies in the Fasti (1991).

Carole Newlands is Professor of Classics at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her publications include Statius: Poet between Rome and Naples (2012); Statius, Siluae 2, A Commentary (2011); Statius’ Siluae and the Poetics of Empire (2002); Playing with Time: Ovid and the Fasti (1995).

A Handbook to the Reception of Ovid presents more than 30 original essays written by leading scholars revealing the rich diversity of critical engagement with Ovid’s poetry that spans the Western tradition from antiquity to the present day.

  • Offers innovative perspectives on Ovid’s poetry and its reception from antiquity to the present day
  • Features contributions from more than 30 leading scholars in the Humanities.
  • Introduces familiar and unfamiliar figures in the history of Ovidian reception.
  • Demonstrates the enduring and transformative power of Ovid’s poetry into modern times.


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Adversative conjunctions

If you have been enjoying my book, The Art of Connection, you might be interested to read what Alexander Bain had to say on the topic of Adversative conjunctions:

Certain of the Adversative conjunctions are used to indicate the mutual bearing of consecutive sentences.

Some of the members of this subdivision are termed Exclusive, because they indicate the exclusion of some circumstances that would otherwise be allowable. "Else," " otherwise," are the chief examples; they occasionally introduce sentences, but owing to the intimacy of union that they express, their chief use is to unite clauses.

Those termed Alternative sometimes form a link between two sentences; for example, or and nor. When nor is used without neither preceding, it is commonly in the sense of and not: "Nor would he have been mistaken;" "And he would not have been mistaken."

We may have one sentence commencing with either and the next with or; and so with neither and nor. But, in general, these intimate a closeness of connection, such as requires the members to be kept within the same sentence.

The group of Adversative conjunctions represented by But (called Arrestive) very often institute relations between consecutive sentences. They are—But then, still, yet, only, nevertheless, however, at the same time, for all that. These may operate on a great scale, covering, not only the sentence, but the paragraph. An entire paragraph is not unfrequently devoted to arresting or preventing a seeming inference from one preceding, and is therefore appropriately opened by but, still, &c.

(English Composition and Rhetoric: A Manual, 1867.)

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Citations and references: the solution to the Kindle / ebook dilemma

If you own a Kindle, Nook, or other ebook reader you will be familiar with the problem that the majority of texts do not have fixed page numbers. They will also display the same text in different way. This means that the location of a quotation in one digital format will be different from another.

Obviously if you are downloading a pdf there will be fixed page numbers to refer to. Readers who want to locate and check your quotations can of course simply search for key words within the text. Also, you can indicate which section of the book you are referring to by including a chapter reference.

Therefore you ought to write in this style

McCormick (2013) outlines the art of disputation (ch. 7) and the art of the supplement (ch. 6).

and quotations like this

McCormick (2013) argues that 'the use of transition words is highly effective in logical thinking' (ch 1.5).

Note that in the example above, the reference helpfully also provides a note of the subsection 5 of chapter 1.

In fact, my epubs included page numbers based on the printed version of the book. These are printed in [square] brackets throughout the text. This means that it would be possible to be more specific:

McCormick (2013) argues that 'the use of transition words is highly effective in logical thinking' (p. 23).

Finally, the basic citation looks like this:

McCormick, Ian. The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences. Quibble Academic, 2013. Kindle file.

According to the MLA, it is even possible, with less information, to cite as follows:

McCormick, Ian. The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences. Quibble Academic, 2013. Digital file.

I'm still unsure how you deal with geographic location of the purchase as this may define the place of publication, e.g. a copy purchased in the UK comes under Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.; or in the United States as Amazon Digital Services, Inc. Does it really matter, if it is the same product? Any thoughts?