Up until about a decade or so ago, the religious "anti" most likely to come to mind in literary studies was anti-Semitism. More recently, though, there has been a boom of interest in anti-Catholicism, both early modern  and Victorian . As subjects go, anti-Catholicism seems at first glance to be relatively self-enclosed; on further examination, however, it turns out to cover an amazingly wide territory. Anti-Catholic rhetoric features prominently not just in the expected debates over theology, but also in discussions of national identity, literary culture, subjectivity, sexuality, domesticity, privacy, race, criminality...the list is endless. Moreover, thanks to the magic power of analogy, attacks on Catholicism frequently overlap in bizarre ways with attacks on Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and so forth.
While operating in different chronological territories, Arthur Marotti and Michael Wheeler share a common project: developing a wide-ranging account of anti-Catholic rhetoric that also incorporates contemporary Catholic counter-voices . Moreover, both authors avowedly bring a literary critic's sensibility to the texts under discussion, whether it's Wheeler's interest in the language of Protestantism's and Catholicism's mutual "misreadings" (xi) or Marotti's in "religious and political language and myth-making" (1). Of the two authors, Marotti inclines more to theory, although (as manifested here, anyway) only moderately so. And both authors spend most of their time covering paraliterary materials, including religious polemics, broadsides, sermons, and didactic texts. Wheeler's book is the more heavily illustrated, mostly courtesy of Punch.
For Marotti's subjects, anti-Catholicism is literally a matter of life and death. In his five chapters, Marotti examines the martyrdoms and textual afterlives of Edmund Campion and Robert Southwell, S.J.; the role of gender in shaping representations of both Jesuits and female recusants, including Margaret Clitherow; the manuscript dissemination of martyr narratives; the representation of conversion in both Protestant and Catholic traditions; and narratives of the Popish Plot and Glorious Revolution in post-Reformation Protestant historiography. Despite the martyr-heavy analysis, Marotti sidesteps John Foxe's Acts and Monuments almost entirely--something that is partly a factor of the study's chronology (Foxe's first edition came out in 1563, Marotti starts his study around 1580) and partly a factor of Marotti's interest in explicitly Catholic voices. In his list of six primary features of martyr narratives, Marotti singles out two as uniquely Catholic: the "sacralizing of these sites of suffering and execution by means of Catholic prayer, sacramentalism, and ceremonialism" and "the occurrence of supernatural signs and wonders and the conversion of the bodies and body parts of the martyrs into saints' relics" (78). Both the existence and the frequently surreptitious transmission of martyr narratives helped unite the English Catholic community, while also linking England to European Catholic circles. (Marotti notes that Church officials eventually found themselves trying to convince Catholic priests that remaining alive might be of considerably more use to the recusant population !) For the reader primarily acquainted with Protestant texts, Marotti's work here will be of considerable use.
The early modern period haunts Victorian anti-Catholic rhetoric; after all, Bloody Mary was the anti-Victoria, a terrifying sign of what might happen were Catholicism to regain its foothold. Nevertheless, Wheeler's The Old Enemies is, for lack of a better term, more comfortably textual than Marotti's book. Victorian Catholics sometimes had to deal with riots, but not execution, and their literary "voices" could travel openly. (Although, as Cardinal Wiseman abruptly discovered, the power of print could have awkward results.) After a lengthy introduction, Wheeler splits his book into three parts, each with three subsections. In each part, Catholics and Protestants face off across a sea of misunderstandings. Part One, "Bloody Histories," examines debates over the early Church, the Marian persecutions, and the Jacobites. Part Two, "Creeds and Crises," turns to questions about church and state, "safety" in faith, and ecclesiastical authority. Finally, Part Three, "Cultural Spaces," studies nuns and Madonnas, the rise of Victorian religious liberalism, and the Decadents.
Wheeler's book should be essential reading for anyone interested in Victorian Catholic vs. anti-Catholic debates, although it occasionally sacrifices depth for breadth. The sections on early Church fiction and Decadent literature do not really add to what has been done elsewhere; however, the extensive introduction and the chapters on "Creeds and Crises" are extremely helpful overviews. Wheeler is one of the most astute scholars in Victorian religion and literature, and his insights into the twists and turns of theological debate (whether academic or popularized) are always welcome. As is often the case with this kind of study, readers may find the accounts of less-familiar authors like Jemima Luke, Anna Eliza Bray, and Emma Robinson more provocative than those of Charles Dickens, Walter Scott, or Charles Kingsley.
Taken together, these books raise two questions about method. One has to do with evidence and interpretation. Any literary scholar tackling ephemeral texts finds him- or herself in the awkward position of having to quote, summarize, and paraphrase at far greater length than when dealing with canonical works. Such quotations, summaries, and paraphrases can easily swamp the argument, a problem that neither Marotti nor Wheeler quite manages to evade. When dealing with poetry, for example, Wheeler sometimes lapses into large chunks of quotation interspersed with a faint sprinkling of analysis; similarly, Marotti at one point offers up a quotation that is approximately 1 1/2 pages long. While having these quotations around certainly comes in handy for the reader (who, after all, cannot be expected to buy a plane ticket to the nearest relevant archive), the argument sometimes suffers. Unfortunately, there's no good way to evade this problem--unless, of course, you want to include a CD of source material with every book.
The second question has to do with audiences. What does it mean to restore Catholics, Jews, or any other minority to the academic "conversation"? Who read these minority voices, and for what purposes? Marotti notes, for example, that some Catholic devotional texts wound up with ecumenical audiences; similarly, Wheeler points out that John Lingard's original publisher for his bestselling History of England was a Protestant (85). I'd note that Lady Georgiana Fullerton owed her success to an ecumenical readership, as did the Jewish novelist Grace Aguilar. But is there a more precise way for us to delineate what's going on when a writer fails to cross over? Is it a matter of marketing, of theology, of form, all of the above, or something else? When we "listen" to a voice, it's perhaps worth remembering that, depending on any number of factors, contemporary "ears" would have been more attuned to some speakers than others. It would be interesting to know more about how the multiple audiences for such religious texts emerged and reconstituted themselves.
 E.g., Frances Dolan, Whores of Babylon: Catholicism, Gender, and Seventeenth-Century Print Culture (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1999); Arthur Marotti, ed., Catholicism and Anti-Catholicism in Early Modern English Texts (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999); Raymond D. Tumbleson, Catholicism in the English Protestant Imagination: Nationalism, Religion and Literature, 1600-1745 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998).
 E.g., Susan David Bernstein, Confessional Subjects: Revelations of Gender and Power in Victorian Literature and Culture (Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1997); Susan M. Griffin, Anti-Catholicism and Nineteenth-Century Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004); Kevin L. Morris, "John Bull and the Scarlet Woman: Charles Kingsley and Anti-Catholicism in Victorian Literature," Recusant History 23 (1996): 190-218; Michael E. Schiefelbein, The Lure of Babylon: Seven Protestant Novelists and Britain's Roman Catholic Revival (Macon, GA: Mercer UP, 2001).
 Arthur Marotti, Religious Ideology & Cultural Fantasy: Catholic and Anti-Catholic Discourses in Early Modern England (Notre Dame: U of Notre Dame P, 2005); Michael Wheeler, The Old Enemies: Catholic and Protestant in Nineteenth-Century English Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006). Earlier projects in this vein include Peter Lake with Michael Questier, The Anti-Christ's Lewd Hat: Protestants, Papists, and Players in Post-Reformation England (New Haven: Yale UP, 2002); Alison Shell, Catholicism, Controversy, and the English Literary Imagination, 1558-1660 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999).