So, Anna Carolina Eugenia, Contessa di Tergolina, subject of my Sketches post. Thanks to the wizardry of ancestry.com, we now have the following data:
1) Her marriage certificate reveals that her birth name is Caroline Crickmore. ("Anna Carolina Eugenia" no doubt sounded much more snazzy.) Anna's/Caroline's father, Thomas, was an engineer.
2) She married Vincenzo di Tergolina in 1859.
3) Intriguingly, according to the death index, Anna/Caroline and Vincenzo died within a couple of months of each other, both in 1889. Coincidence? Grief? Carriage accident? (That last is not snarky, by the way--severe injuries would explain why they might have died relatively close together.) Unfortunately, I can't see their death certificates online.
4) I trekked over to the British Newspaper Archive. A newspaper report in the Morning Post (23 December 1875) suggests that Vincenzo was part of a "Palestine Society" designed to encourage Jews to return...where else? Given his evangelical leanings, that's not surprising.
5) The Count served on the London Committee of the Italian Exhibition in 1888, alongside such luminaries as Lord Tennyson (Pall Mall Gazette [28 April 1888]). In general, he appears to have rebounded nicely from going bankrupt in 1864.
Risorgimento-era evangelical fiction is fascinating precisely because the novelists completely fail to grasp the possibility that Italian nationalism did not herald a new Reformation in the offing. In general, evangelicals (and other Protestants, for that matter) didn't quite know what to do with Italy, given that the Italians so stubbornly resisted the supposedly irresistible call of the Bible alone &c. Although, as Dennis Mack Smith points out, anti-Catholicism definitely underpinned some aspects of Risorgimento propaganda (and some Jesuits insisted that nationalism was a Protestant project), the results failed to meet expectations, to say the least.1
Anna Carolina Eugenia, Contessa di Tergolina's Sketches and Stories of Life in Italy (1871), although fairly conventional in terms of its evangelical tropes, nevertheless usefully exemplifies what such novels (or, in this case, novellas) set out to do. The Contessa herself is a bit of a mystery, aside from being an Englishwoman born in 1831 or 1834 (I haven't been able to locate her maiden name yet). Her husband, Vincenzo di Tergolina, Conte di Tergolina (b. 1815) was a professor of law at the University of Padua and a Venetian politician. Anna was his second wife; according to his autobiography, he had eight children with his first wife, Marie di Gislanzoni.2 After emigrating to England, he tried his hand at business, only to fail spectacularly. He makes the English newspapers in July 1864 as a "late dealer in fancy French goods" after being arrested for debt.3 When not going bankrupt, Vincenzo wrote a number of miscellaneous books in Italian; granting the possibility that Anna had previously published anonymously or under her maiden name, she appears to have made her publishing debut in 1865 as the English translator of his anti-Catholic Words of Truth to the Roman Catholics. She began writing religious fiction, albeit not very prolifically, a couple of years later, quite possibly in order to bring in extra cash (see "when not going bankrupt"). Some of the novellas collected in Sketches and Stories had already appeared in the Religious Tract Society's magazine The Sunday at Home. Of the eight novellas, only one, "The Student of Padua," is a historical novel, set during the failed attempt to expand the Reformation to Italy. The others are set in the present. Two of them, "The Italian Volunteer" and "The Wounded Soldier," taking place during the Second Italian War of Independence (1859) and First Italian War of Independence (1848), respectively, while "The Brothers of Olmeta" is set after Garibaldi captures Naples (1861) .
Although the protagonists of these stories are Italian, the subtle importance of Englishness regularly wends its way through the narratives. Three of them ("The Wounded Soldier," "Bettina Ravelli," "The School in the Forest") are told entirely from a first person POV that we are invited to identify with A. C. E., while the longest story, "Fenella," begins with the (same?) first person POV and then transitions to third person. This narrative voice is English, but she's not the only English Protestant in the text: Fenella's (deceased) mother is English; Fenella's eventual husband, a soldier named Gasparini, is struck by the sight of an Englishwoman reading the Bible to sailors (50); Luigi, a young man out for vengeance in "The Brothers of Olmeta," finds himself residing with an Englishwoman and her Italian husband, an obvious stand-in for the author (134); another evangelical Englishwoman is in the background of "Bettina Ravelli"; and an Englishman, for a change, proselytizes his Italian companion-in-arms in "The Wounded Soldier." Far from being incidental or merely autobiographical, the presence of evangelical Englishmen and Englishwomen is actually a relatively common motif in Risorgimento fiction. The English Protestant brings the forbidden Bible, along with literacy, into a country in the throes of political change. While the soldiers succeed or fail, the English Protestants work upon the minds of all classes, producing a "modern" religious mindset to accompany an equally "modern" sense of nationhood. (Out with the Pope, in with God...) Moreover, the emphasis on women reading the Bible stands in stark contrast to the controlling figure of the Catholic priest, who denies his congregation firsthand knowledge of the Scriptures. Finally, several of the novellas associate an explicitly Protestant English femininity with a kind of homeliness otherwise absent from the Italian countryside; for example, the unnamed narrator of "Fenella" observes that "some one with English notions of comfort" (15) has arranged the domestic interior, and when she appears again in "The School in the Forest," she insists that the children she plans to teach must arrive "clean and neat" (264)--not filthy as their parents normally leave them. As in other Risorgimento novels, the Italians may be able to take care of the politics and the soldiering, but they need the English to supply the necessary moral fiber, administered via the Bible.
1 Dennis Mack Smith, Victor Emanuel, Cavour, and the Risorgimento (London: Oxford UP, 1971), 20; see also C. T. McIntire, England against the Papacy, 1858-1861 (1983; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 224.
2 [Vincenzo di Tergolina], "Four Years in the Prisons of Rome," The Leisure Hour 13 (1864): 12. Di Tergolina was jailed in 1850 after the Austrians invaded Venice.
3 "Bankrupts," The Morning Post 20 July 1864: 7; "Court of Bankruptcy--August 11," The Daily News 12 August 1864: 6.
1. In 1996, Robert Griffin published Wordsworth's Pope, which analyzed the relationship between Wordsworth's theoretical manifestos against neo-classical poetics (as embodied by Alexander Pope) and his own practice. Griffin suggests that while Wordsworth certainly throws down all available gauntlets against Pope, his actual work engages with, and frequently resorts to, the same neo-classical poetic forms, tropes, diction, &c. as his predecessor. The poets are different, to be sure, and Wordsworth is hardly imitating Pope--but he's also a lot less different than he wants the reader to think. This monograph came to mind.
2. When I was in graduate school, Romanticists deconstructed and New Historicized; early modernists New Historicized; eighteenth-century scholars "old" historicized, but also did a lot of formalism/genre theory; and medievalists still had a whole lot of philology going on. Victorianists, far from having no theory, tended to have strong affections for Foucault, gender theory, and the burgeoning fields of postcolonial and queer theory. Nevertheless, it's true that Victorian studies were never associated so clearly with specific theoretical projects as early modern and Romantic studies. It strikes me that that was and is a good thing.
3. My general experience (as student and professional) has been that those invested in theory are frequently small-c conservative in their actual attention to literary works. Rather a lot of high theory emerges from and, in turn, privileges "the canon," which means that it erases as much as it reveals.
4. In Book One, my ability to write about early histories of women emerged from the questions that feminists and poststructural theorists were then posing about historiography. But in working through the archives, I discovered that the questions did not result in the expected answers (in this case, I found that early women's history was rarely feminist [even by 19th-c. standards] and could not be appropriated as the literary "grandmothers" of contemporary women's history, nor did one find a woman's "voice" in these frequently-plagiarized texts). Similarly, Book Two developed from my interest in the theory of historical fiction, but once again, the archive highlighted the theory's limitations (most theories of historical fiction rest on assumptions about the nature of both history and the genre that make it impossible to "read" large swathes of material). Book Three and One Half will do something similar with current theoretical approaches to "religion and literature" (however you are defining that).
Like the rest of us who teach at campuses that are neither R1s nor elite SLACs nor draped elegantly in ivy, Corey Robin cannot help noticing a certain narrowness in mass media coverage of higher ed. Well, yes. Besides the reasons other commenters have pointed out--Harvard and Yale grads covering Harvard and Yale, etc.--I think that there's also some convenient homogeneity at the upper end of the scale. Such campuses are generally competing nation-wide for the same kind of student; expecting similar research outcomes from their faculty; and, for that matter, hiring faculty from within their own particular network. Smaller and/or less elite campuses, whether comprehensive colleges or directional states, of necessity tend to think locally (although financial pressures are changing that), may have different hiring priorities, have wildly varying expectations about research, and so forth. (This is why I have come to look askance at the deluges of academic hiring advice that professional career counselors pour forth each season: much of it has to be ignored for any given college.) Incorporating colleges like mine requires reporters to think about not only different campus cultures, but also regional issues (my little SUNY fits rather differently into its part of NY than Robin's CUNY), varying responses to financial questions, demographic vagaries, and the like.
Joseph Bottum's recent essay on Protestantism and the novel is similar to an earlier article by Valentine Cunningham, which argues, even more bluntly, that the modern novel form is indebted to the "God of the Protestant Reformers and the Protestant Bible translators." Its plots, according to Cunningham, emerge from the very Christian "dialogic relation" between "melancholy" and "possible ways of escape from it into its grand other, ecstasy."1 Cunningham takes this argument to its logical conclusion, which is that a "novel" emerging outside this particular context is not a novel. For Bottum (much less interested than Cunningham is in Robinson Crusoe), what makes the novel "Protestant" is its emphasis on "the individual's soul journey," or "self-consciousness as self-understanding." In other words: "The self-investigation of the self, the attempt to discern the truth amidst the clash of feelings with perceptions of social and physical reality, emerges as the proper spiritual journey of individuals and the true rightwising of their souls:Pilgrim's Progress, rewritten in self-consciousness." Both writers agree that, as Bottum puts it, even for Catholic authors, "the paths of the novel" all wind over "Protestant territory."
Strictly speaking, I'm operating in the kind of space that neither Cunningham nor Bottum finds particularly interesting--novels that are first and foremost religious-=but still, the question of whether the Victorian religious novel can be said to be Protestant or Catholic in its form, not just in its subject matter, is of obvious interest to me. In many ways, this kind of boundary-drawing feels like capturing sand--which, if all writers are in the same "territory," makes sense. Still, that's not to say that nothing is distinctive about Victorian Catholic religious fiction.
So. What are the major differences?
Little to no wrestling with the Bible. It's difficult to find a Protestant novel without a scene (or scenes) in which characters wrestle with Biblical interpretation, usually on their own. Even when they have help, these characters still need to arrive at their conclusions using private judgment. In a Catholic novel, not only do these scenes not happen, but also the Bible itself rarely gets a look-in, except in occasional quotations or, perhaps, larger structural allusions. (If the Bible does crop up, it's frequently a priest doing the quoting.) Instead...
...characters struggle to acknowledge the eternal verity of the Church. Subjective struggles emerge from a character's willingness or unwillingness to accept that the RCC is the one and only true Church. Frequently...
...the transformative moment is when the character participates in or observes Mass. The Mass either sparks the character's first doubts about Protestantism or confirms his or her new faith. In other words, the combined workings of the miracle of the Eucharist and participation in communal worship/adoration supplant the Protestant novel's emphasis on the individual alone with the Word (even though both conversion plots lead the character to a new-found community of believers). Alternately or in addition...
...conversion occurs because the character is exposed to an exemplary Catholic. Witnessing good works and their effect stirs a new interest in the faith. Again, the Catholic understanding of spiritual community sparks the character's inward transformation. Moreover...
...there is no assumption that suffering leads to a this-worldly reward, or that there is even such a thing as a "happy ending." While Protestant fiction doesn't necessarily assume this either--witness all the novels about being persecuted and martyred for the faith--Catholic fiction tends to insist much more strictly on extreme suffering being rewarded only in Heaven, and that, moreover, even a relatively upbeat ending will still be leavened by significant experiences of pain. (It's not that Catholic characters spend the rest of their lives in a state of gloom, but that they rarely get rewarded by money, social status, or any other worldly good for as a sign of God's good graces.) Along those lines...
...the marriage plot is not normative. (This has been discussed by Maria La Monaca, among others.) Now we're getting into more substantial questions of genre. Unlike classic realist fiction (cf. Joseph Boone), Catholic fiction does not assume that women's subjectivities (or men's, for that matter) are necessarily bound up in an arc of love, marriage, and childbirth. Instead, women come into full selfhood by embodying Catholic ideals of piety, charity, humility, &c. (using the saints and the Virgin as models), and there is no set pattern for this development: they may marry and have children (or, as the case may be, marry and not have children); they may lead a single secular life devoted to charitable works; or (ideally) they may take vows. Novels may model all of these paths. Marriage in and of itself does not take priority. (It's worth noting that while the novels downgraded the marriage plot for women, Catholic commentators of the time did not always agree.) Perhaps most seriously...
...miracles happen. That is to say, Catholic realism encompasses mystical visions, visitations from the saints, and miraculous transformations (e.g., the miracle of St. Januarius). In Protestant fiction, God might have his say with a nasty thunderstorm, but he's not going to liquefy blood. For a reader who approaches fiction from a Protestant or Protestant-by-default perspective, Victorian Catholic fiction cannot easily be classed with classical realist novels because the underlying narrative assumptions seem to point towards "Gothic" or "romance"--even though, in fact, the novels simply have a somewhat different understanding of the boundaries of "the real."
1 Valentine Cunningham, "The Novel and the Protestant Fix: Between Melancholy and Ecstasy," Biblical Religion and the Novel 1700-2000, ed. Mark Knight and Thomas Woodman (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), 40.
1) On the candidate's end: no institutional letterhead; no mention of institutions on the CV or in the letter.
2) Letters of recommendation: Entirely anonymous. Letters are signed on an entirely separate sheet, not forwarded to the search committee; no institutional letterhead, no mention of institutions.
3) At Human Resources: for record-keeping purposes, candidates may register their institutional affiliations in a separate document/online form that would not be viewable by search committees; similarly, a candidate's referees' names/institutions would be available to HR, but not the committee.
It's not really possible to make the candidates anonymous, as it would take all of five seconds to Google their publications or conference presentations.
1) Would reduce, if not entirely eliminate, unjustified bias towards particular graduate (and perhaps even undergraduate) institutions.
2) Would divert attention from the signature on the letter of reference to the letter itself.
3) Would level the playing field a bit for academics who, for whatever reason, found themselves restricted in their choice of graduate school by geography, family obligations, etc.
1) More files for HR to maintain (or lose...).
2) Some universities not in the overall top twenty may well have individual departments with high rankings (an obvious case is Illinois State University at Normal, which has one of the most important programs in children's literature in the country). Students in those programs would lose an advantage.
3) In some cases, stripping affiliations might make it harder to diversify programs (for any sense of the word "diversify") than easier--while search committees might have fewer opportunities to be (un)consciously biased, they would also have fewer opportunities to conscientiously identify students who are not from the top ten (if that is understood to be a goal).
1) Depending on HR regulations, it may be necessary to contact referees at some point in the decision-making phase. Presumably, HR could identify the referees at that point.
2) I don't think this makes forgery/other forms of misrepresentation easier.
3) There may be unforeseen consequences for applicants who share referees, in the sense that it would become difficult to catch when a referee insists that all his students are the awesomest awesomes who ever awesomed, or whatever. By the same token, it also makes it harder for a committee to figure out that Professor X just writes terrible letters, as opposed to writing a terrible letter for one student and amazing letters for all the others.
4) I do wonder if this approach would have unforeseen consequences in regards to professionalization trends. On the one hand, all those ABDs from Yale with no publications would lose any advantage they might have from the magic word "Yale"; on the other hand, graduate students might feel even more pressure to publish than they do, as that would probably take the place of University Name Here as a convenient sorting hat.
In recent months we've heard from the nurse (a minor character) and now Gwendolen (a major one). But surely this vein of literary endeavor has not yet been fully tapped? I humbly offer the following suggestions:
1) Better Service Have I Never Done You: The First Servant's Tale. Who was that anonymous First Servant in King Lear? And what led him to oppose his master, the Duke of Cornwall? In this shocking narrative, told as an extended flashback, the First Servant reveals why a jealous William Shakespeare vengefully consigned him to both anonymity and an untimely death. Lovers of mysteries and codes will be intrigued by the novel's intricate plot, which begins over a breakfast of bacon and eggs when the First Servant announced plans for a trip to Oxford...
2) Pilot: A Shaggy Dog Story. Fans of Lassie and Lad: A Dog will delight in this innovative reinterpretation of Jane Eyre, which retells the classic love story from the POV of Rochester's dog. Charlotte Bronte's anthropomorphism led her to conceal Pilot's central role in the plot, which included knocking Rochester off his horse and tricking Grace Poole into letting Bertha Mason out of the attic. Pilot's own doomed passion for Adele's Maltese forms a melancholy counterpoint to the more familar tale.
3) A Sensible Gentleman: Or, Mr. Willoughby's Narrative. In this new twist on Sense and Sensibility, Mr. Willoughby offers a rollicking account of romantic life at the end of the eighteenth century, when waists were high and moral standards were low. There is, of course, sex.
4) Unexpected. An irate Pip discovers that Charles Dickens has published his autobiography without permission, and with a few significant--and unapproved--edits. The truth is far more exciting...and far more brutal. Readers will thrill to Pip's gruesome stories of life as an accountant, especially his revelations about the role double-entry bookkeeping played in his discovery of the truth about Magwitch.
5) The Nun's Priest's Horse's Tale. Geoffrey Chaucer spent little time on the all-important animals carrying the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales. In this twenty-first century Black Beauty, the Nun's Priest's Horse offers--in luminous verse--a touching story about everyday life as a medieval animal. Readers will never look at a haystack in the same way.
6) Ringing the Book. This audacious and ambitious retelling of Robert Browning's The Ring and the Book reimagines the story from the point of view of the Yellow Book itself. In a series of terza rima sonnets, the Yellow Book reflects on the process of its own construction, its fragmentary consciousness of the plot's events, and its eventual appropriation by Browning. Written to be taught in courses on postmodernism, poststructuralist theory, and intertextuality.
7) The Slough of Despond. In this elegiac sequel to Vanity Fair, an elderly Dobbin, still unable to complete his History, reflects on married life, fatherhood, and his secret but passionate affair with Becky Sharp. As the narrative unfolds, the reader realizes that Dobbin's tale is actually addressed to his heretofore unknown love child with Miss Jemima Pinkerton...
8) Lord Henry: My Life. This naughty novel is The Picture of Dorian Gray with all the good bits left in. A boisterous romp through the most decadent homes of the late-Victorian aristocracy, Lord Henry follows the eponymous hero through the heights of passion and the depths of interior decorating. A Fifty Shades of Grey for the more discerning reader.
9) The Dormouse Dozes. The publishing event of the season, The Dormouse Dozes asks us to imagine Alice's Adventures in Wonderland from the perspective of a dreamer within the dream. Told in fragmentary bursts of consciousness, delirious prose reminiscent of James Joyce, and abstract imagery, The Dormouse Dozes heralds our liberation from plot, characterization, genre, and the novel itself.
10) Daniel Deronda. In a scalding rejection of F. R. Leavis, Daniel Deronda retells the events of George Eliot's classic novel with all references to Gwendolen removed.
Apartment: set! (Er, unless there's some untoward disaster.) Plane ticket: set! (And I don't even have to fly in the wrong direction to change planes. That's what comes of avoiding British Airways this time around...) I'll be in London for approximately six weeks, from mid-May to the end of June, reading religious novels in the British Library and, with any luck, looking at some publishers' archives.