Our Research Seminar series - subtitled American Borders this semester - is about to jump into action. You can view the full schedule here.
Our speaker will be John Attridge, Lecturer in English at the University of New South Wales. His essays on modernism and twentieth-century literature have appeared in journals such as ELH, Modernism/modernity and The Henry James Review. He is co-editor, with Rod Rosenquist, of an essay collection entitled Incredible Modernism: Literature, Trust and Deception, due out in 2013 from Ashgate. This Wednesday he'll be talking about:
Mind, body and embarrassment in Henry James
Henry James is traditionally regarded as the most inward-looking of all nineteenth-century novelists, preoccupied above all with the representation of consciousness. This focus on the recesses of subjectivity, however, can lead us to overlook the importance of bodies and of public behaviour in his work. In this paper I suggest that James’s late work shows a preoccupation with one such publicly observable behaviour in particular: embarrassment. Focusing mainly on What Maisie Knew (1897) and The Awkward Age (1899), I read James’s representation of embarrassment and social awkwardness in the context of debates within late-Victorian psychology about the mind-body relationship. I suggest that blushing and other manifestations of embarrassment were charged with special significance in the context of these debates, and that James’s sensitive depiction of these states is not susceptible to critical analysis in terms of consciousness and interiority.
All welcome - see you there.