Department of English

Professors Allen MacDuffie and David Kornhaber and graduate student Pearl Brilmyer's articles to be published in PMLA

Thu, January 23, 2014
Professors Allen MacDuffie and David Kornhaber and graduate student Pearl Brilmyer's articles to be published in PMLA

Congratulations to Professors Allen MacDuffie and David Kornhaber and to graduate student Pearl Brilmyer, all of whom will soon have articles published in PMLA, one of the most esteemed journals in literary studies.

“PMLA is the journal of the Modern Language Association of America. Since 1884 PMLA has published members’ essays judged to be of interest to scholars and teachers of language and literature. Four issues each year (January, March, May, and October) present essays on language and literature, and the November issue is the program for the association’s annual convention. (Up until 2009, there was also an issue in September, the Directory, containing a listing of the association’s members, a directory of departmental administrators, and other professional information. Its contents are now online.) Each issue of PMLA is sent directly to about 28,000 college and university teachers of English and foreign languages who belong to the association and to about 1,900 libraries throughout the world."

- PMLA’s website 

Below are the abstratcs for the three articles. MacDuffie and Brilmyers’s articles will be published in this month’s edition of PMLA, while Kornhaber’s will come out in the October edition.

Professor Allen MacDuffie's "The Jungle Books: Rudyard Kipling's Lamarckian Fantasy":

Scholars often describe Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Books as a “Darwinian” narrative. Overlooked, however, is the way in which the text explicitly discusses Lamarckian evolutionary ideas, including, and especially, the inheritance of acquired characteristics. This essay contextualizes Mowgli’s narrative within a fierce late nineteenth-century debate about whether the Darwinian theory of natural selection or Lamarckian use-inheritance was the main driver of evolutionary change. It argues that Kipling describes his protagonist’s ascent to “master of the jungle” in thoroughly Lamarckian terms, as an evolutionary process propelled by experience, effort, and conscious adaptation. But it also argues that the some of the conceptual incoherence that troubled the Lamarckian evolutionary scheme when it was applied to human racial difference also troubles Kipling’s account of Mowgli’s own genetic past and the evolutionary issue of his experiences. 

Pearl Brilmyer's “‘The Natural History of My Inward Self’: Sensing Character in George Eliot’s Impressions of Theophrastus Such”:

A large body of Eliot scholarship is dedicated to the question of human sympathy. My essay moves in a different direction, arguing that Eliot saw literature not only as a medium for intersubjective understanding but also as an amplificatory technology, a tool for the sensation of manifold realities. This technology is embodied by the affective dynamics of character in Eliot’s final published work, Impressions of Theophrastus Such (1879), a collection of character sketches and philosophical essays composed in conversation with the ancient Greek naturalist and sketch writer Theophrastus of Eresus. Impressions invokes the descriptive traditions of natural history and the character sketch to suggest that human beings, like other animals, are conditioned by bodily frameworks and habitual responses that allow them to sense some things and not others. A meditation also on the history of characterization itself, Eliot’s last work puts pressure on the modern association of character with individual human psychology.

David Kornhaber's "Kushner at Colonus: Tragedy, Politics, and Citizenship":

The Epilogue of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America is often criticized as modeling a political capitulation, eclipsing real political difference under vague spiritual promise.  This article reads Kushner’s Epilogue in dialogue with Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus as a negotiation with the tragic condition that necessarily intertwines the political and the spiritual, set within a ritual space of utopic transformation.  The tragic subject, persisting past the point of her expected demise and defined by her continued exclusion from the polis, demands citizenship as an act of reincorporation and an amelioration to her suffering, offering transformative benefits to the state in turn.  For Kushner, following Sophocles, the demand for citizenship is a demand for personal and political subjecthood, a precondition to all other politics that is always also a spiritual transfiguration.

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