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Aesthetico-constructivism: farther adventures in criticism.


For at least a generation, most critics of the eighteenth-century novel have argued or assumed that canonical texts do not passively reflect a pre-existent reality but help to shape or construct what readers perceive as reality. Although "construct" is susceptible to various qualifications and inflections, a consensus definition might read something like this: we study the complex negotiations among competing idioms, expectations, and poetic and discursive strategies that characterize literary texts while (in theory) remaining alert to our own epistemological investments, analytical methods, and socioeconomic, gendered, national, and ethnic positions. Critics of the novel, such as Michael McKeon and Helen Thompson, have adapted broadly constructivist principles in order to modify or challenge the metanarrative of "the Enlightenment" that describes the "rise" of the novel, the advent of the Habermasian public sphere, the rise of the nation-state, the "rise" of the modern bourgeois subject, and the rise of modern science in mutually constitutive and mutually reinforcing terms. (1) If the novel has become the pre-eminent form that shapes and reflects these mutually constitutive narratives of eighteenth-century culture, the constructivism that scholars find or read into the period remains an impure art, tinged by principles of formalist literary analysis. (2) Put simply, the works that critics argue or assume help to construct notions of individual and cultural identity almost invariably are canonical texts--works such as Robinson Crusoe, Pamela, and Emma--that previous generations of critics already have determined are aesthetically superior to Adventures of a Banknote, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, and Lady Audley's Secret.

In this regard, the constructivist consensus among critics of the eighteenth-century novel masks crucial problems--often displaced or ignored--that result from the institutionalization of what I will call heuristically aesthetico-constructivism. I use this term to describe the formalist values and assumptions that underlie the tendency to bend historicist, feminist, and materialist approaches to the task of reasserting the stability of a literary canon that, even though it now includes women writers and writers of color, still seemingly represents what Matthew Arnold called "the best that was thought or said." (3) In this essay, I want to focus on unpacking the circular logic of aesthetico-constructivism by examining an intriguing case study in the history of the novel: the disappearance from the canon, after World War I, of Daniel Defoe's Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. This example is hardly chosen at random; it forces us to explore the problems that underlie formalism as both an interpretive practice and a disciplinary metaphysic. By disregarding the publishing history of the Crusoe trilogy, many neo-formalist approaches have treated Robinson Crusoe as a coherent, stand-alone novel, elevating ahistorical notions of aesthetic value over Defoe's own comments on the work, the practice of fiction-writing, and a two-hundred year history of publishing The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe and The Farther Adventures together? To unpack the values and assumptions that have allowed critics to severe Crusoe's two-part Adventures, though, requires examining briefly the principles of formalist analysis that downplay more historically oriented approaches.

My purpose in offering a critique of some aspects of new formalism is to make three points. First, I want to counter the argument that new historicism, feminism, and cultural studies depend on the aesthetic principles that these approaches, according to some formalists, either unthinkingly or disingenuously reject. (5) This "unmasking" of the formalist bases of "ideological criticism," I suggest, assumes a simplistic model of cause and effect that makes it difficult to develop a sophisticated understanding of the complex activities that underlie literary interpretation. Second, I want to challenge the idea that the formalist reading of an individual literary text mirrors or reproduces the original act of artistic creation, even affectively: there is no such thing as an ur-formalist analysis that establishes the timeless brilliance, aesthetic coherence, or canonicity of Robinson Crusoe or any other text independently of the complex networks that produce, qualify, and adjudicate evaluative judgments over and in time. Consequently, aesthetic judgment, history, and ideology are never distinct approaches or incommensurable ways of seeing; and, in this respect, the endless meta-debates about approaches within literary studies tell us more about the dynamics of the discipline than they do about eighteenth-century texts. AIM finally, the values and assumptions of aesthetic organicism that I explore in the next section are so deeply embedded in the institution of criticism that the real debates in eighteenth-century studies are not between formalism and "ideological criticism" but between different versions of constructivist values and assumptions--that is, different reconstructions of our own intellectual investments and allegiances.


The great strength of recent work on the eighteenth-century novel is that its constructivist projects--understanding the gendered and politicized emergence of modern conceptions of self-identity--have pushed to the side formalist efforts that tend to treat eighteenth-century novels as though they were structured by the same principles of aesthetic coherence attributed to lyric poems. In her trenchant critique of formalism's debts to "the trope of the organic whole," Mary Poovey argues that both ontologically and epistemologically formalism "treats its analytic objects as if they were lyrics" and makes "features that perform lyric functions" central to critical interpretation. In its emphasis on the imagination, formalism depends on what she calls the "objectification of the poet/poem/reader complex," a feedback loop that exists in "isolation from other kinds of social and political experience." This allegiance to the impoverished metaphor of the organic whole within even politically astute modes of literary criticism, Poovey argues, displaces the material histories of literary texts into the atemporal present of formalism. Consequently, narrative becomes less a movement through time than a lyricized reconfiguration of spatial or geometrical relations because the critic's purpose remains to bring "hidden truths and patterns to light" and thereby "reanimate the literary text" by (re-)producing in her analysis its organic unity. (6)

Poovey's critique of new formalism suggests six linked corollaries that offer a means to examine the logic behind a widespread, yet often vague dissatisfaction with formalist modes of criticism and to suggest why certain modes of new formalism seem content to resurrect caricatures of the Enlightenment at the expense of the sophisticated sociocuhural analyses of eighteenth-century literature that have emerged over the last two decades. (7) The idea of a poem or novel as an organic entity is, after all, a metaphor drawn from biology, and yet the implications of this constitutive metaphor are seldom acknowledged or explored. (8)

1. The "organic whole" is an abstraction that bears no relation to actual biology or physiology. Because formalist critics are always in the process of forgetting that the idea of holistic form is a metaphor, they risk a kind of historical myopia by remaining committed to pre-Darwinian misapprehensions of organic unity--the fiction that individual elements are integrated into an overarching principle of design. This concept has its origins in the theocentric "argument from design" that surfaced in the seventeenth century in, among other treatises, John Ray's The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of Creation (London, 1693). In this respect, it does not matter whether formalists locate aesthetic coherence in the writer's intention or in the work as a self-consistent system: organic wholes do not exist in contemporary biological and life sciences. "In biology," says Richard Lewontin, the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology Emeritus at Harvard, "there may be general statements, but there are no universals, and ... actual events are the nexus of multiple causal pathways and chance perturbations." By suggesting that in the physical universe there are only "events" that have multiple causes and nondeterministic origins, Lewontin emphasizes that disciplinary practices of biological science shape conceptions of life and the physical universe: "facts in science," he argues, "do not present themselves in a preexistent shape. Rather it is experimental or observational protocol that constructs facts out of an undifferentiated nature." (9) In taking "general statements" for time-independent truths and recasting "multiple causal pathways" as artistic intention or genius, formalist approaches construct works of art as self-coherent systems and mystify their own practices in imagining an organic unity for art that resists the ravages of time.

2. In placing its fictions of the organic whole beyond history and biology, formalism mystifies its difficulties in defining what "form" is. Because aesthetic unity is produced as an abstraction that can be explicated by various means, almost any feature of a text--from the overall structure of a work to seemingly minute narrative particulars--can be recruited to provide the theoretical as well as evidentiary basis for formalist analysis. (10) In his classic statement of formalist principles, Poetic Meter and Poetic Form, Paul Fussell invokes form as both a macrocosmic structure and the microcosmic orchestration of particulars that characterize the striving of great art for an absolute identity of form and meaning. Like most formalists, he is better at offering readings of individual poems than he is in explicating the values and assumptions that underlie his conception of form. "Poetry," he asserts, "demands not only a superb taste in the ever-shifting symbolic system of the connotations of language and an instinct for the aesthetic significance of abstract forms and patterns, but also a deep and abiding understanding of the rhythmic psychology and even physiology of readers in general." (11) Fussell's implicit contrast between an ever-changing language and "abstract forms" that retain their "aesthetic significance" through time suggests the extent to which formalist analysis remains tied to modes of close reading that are dedicated to producing elegant demonstrations of a foregone conclusion: individual elements of a work of art contribute to the organic whole. In turn, this ideal unity marks the union of method and metaphysic, the mutually reinforcing abstractions of "physiology," "psychology," and poetry.

3. Form becomes an evaluative absolute. Fussell's brand of formalism mobilizes literary value as both the intrinsic, transhistorical characteristics that define great art and the purpose of criticism: the education of readers who are able to distinguish between "the tiny selection of genuinely successful poems to which we return again and again" and works consigned to "the vast and almost measureless rubbish heap of the centuries." (12) The assertiveness of Fussell's rhetoric serves a compensatory function by underscoring the objectivity of formalist analysis in order to counter widespread suspicions that literary evaluation is nothing but subjective impressionism. When his study was published in 1965, of course, the "rubbish heap of the centuries" included poems, novels, and plays by now-canonical writers--Aphra Behn, Eliza Haywood, Frances Burney, and many others--who have reshaped our understanding of the sociohistorical processes of Restoration and eighteenth-century literature.

4. Formalism, as Poovey suggests, is (re)produced by specific acts of interpretation rather than existing as an objective method that validates reflexively the "superb taste" and "deep and abiding understanding" exhibited by great art. In his description of the anthropology of modern science, Bruno Latour examines the ways in which "facts" are produced through complex processes that marshal a wide variety of economic, intellectual, social, professional, and institutional resources in order to assemble, modify, and exploit the networks essential to the (re)production of scientific knowledge. (13) Roughly analogous networks exist in literary studies to disseminate collective, seemingly abstract aesthetic judgments through a wide range of venues: syllabi, lectures, class discussions, paper assignments, GRE questions, conference presentations, scholarly publications, and meta-commentaries on these practices, such as teaching evaluations, book reviews, external evaluations for tenure and promotion, and so forth. Latour's crucial point cuts across disciplinary boundaries: abstractions must be produced. Formalist analyses, he argues, are "the results of a concrete work of purification" that strives to make its products seem "more real than any other convention passed among men" (246) and women. This work of "purification" is the process of creating from individual acts of observation or interpretation the seemingly context-independent "facts" that than can be applied across distance and time. In Lewontin's terms, "purification" takes general statements that can be modified, disproved, or qualified, and dehistoricizes them as universals that exist independently of any efforts to contextualize them.

5. This process of purification, of distilling an essential form from historical experience, operates to put the "poet/poem/reader complex" beyond the bounds of critical scrutiny. If poetry seeks, as Charles Baudelaire puts it, to "distill the eternal from the transitory," (14) the "eternal" is not a product in itself but an abstraction that is projected into the black box of the poet's mind. In calling for "a moratorium on cognitive explanations of science and technology" (247), Latour challenges the recurrent idealist psychologism that underwrites formalist explanations across the human sciences: the myths of the lone scientific genius, the misunderstood artist, or the solitary writer in his or her garret. (15) "Almost no one," he contends, "has the courage to do a careful anthropological study of formalism. The reasons for this lack of nerve are quite simple: a priori ... it is toward the mind and its cognitive abilities that one looks for an explanation of form" (246). By invoking the agency of individual minds in the formulation of scientific theories and the creation of canonical works of art, formalism, as a cross-disciplinary nexus of practices, values, and assumptions, turns the mind into a back formation, an abstraction that is the effect of networks of production. This is why the best formalist critics, including Charles Altieri, Susan Wolfson, Jonathan Loesberg, Denis Donoghue, and Michael Clark, among others, invariably turn to close readings as a crucial explanatory strategy because such meticulous interpretations produce the very aesthetic standards that legitimate formalist analysis. (16)

6. While most new formalists try to situate their readings historically by emphasizing the ways in which formal features register "the unique way that each artwork tries to make symbolic what experience has suggested as actual," (17) the dialogical nature of novelistic discourse works against the assumptions that allow critics, even in passing, to distinguish between the "symbolic" and the "actual." Some critics can preserve what Poovey calls "the modern orthodoxy of aesthetic autonomy" by reading novels as though they were timeless registers of underlying truths about human nature. (18) But treating novels as though they were lyric poems threatens to conflate narrative structure--the material, historical relationships of elements within the kinds of complex networks that Lewontin and Latour describe--and the neoplatonic ideal of form that persists through (and despite) time. Novels are not organic wholes but dialogic narratives that recast structure as historical process. (19)

In short, Poovey's de-centering of organicism calls into the question not only formalist methodologies but the ways in which formalism goes about theorizing its practices. Critics of the novel recently have turned to cognitive explanations to ground the experience of novel reading in a new universalist effort to explore the relationship between mind, moral reasoning, and physiology. (20) But as Nicholas Dames astutely points out in his study of an earlier era's fascination with the physiology of reading, the same stylistic qualities and habits that led many Victorian and early twentieth-century critics to deplore novel-reading as both the cause and effect of "a catastrophic decline in the consumption habits of the British public" have been resurrected and celebrated by Martha Nussbaum, among others, as a means to inculcate a moral attentiveness to the complexities of "public reasoning in a democratic society." (21) Such efforts to turn novel reading into a crucial element in the making of cultural modernity or a window into evolutionary adaptation suggest the stakes in debates about constructivism. (22) The consensus view, since Plato, that art has the capacity to shape moral and social identity suggests that the formalist obsession with "the trope of the organic whole" is a way to shore up the humanist self and to narrow the meaning of "construct" to the reproduction of modes of affective identification.


Most eighteenth-century novelists take pains to declare that aesthetic values are less significant to them than the constructivist processes of "instruction"--shaping the minds and morality of their readers. In his preface to Sir Charles Grandison, Samuel Richardson claims that his final novel "is not published ultimately, nor even principally, any more than [Pamela or Clarissa] for the Sake of Entertainment only. A much nobler End is in View"; this end, of course, is inculcating virtue in his readers by providing "the Example of a Man acting uniformly well," a hero guided by his "Religion and Virtue." Richardson's transparent fiction in the prefaces to all of his novels that he is merely the editor of "remarkable Collections of private Letters" that "fell into his hands" works rhetorically to displace the novelist's acts of creation in order to emphasize the imaginative re-creation in the minds of his readers of the moral principles of "Religion and Virtue." (23) At the same time, Richardson aggressively seeks to structure their experience by restricting their opportunities for wayward interpretations. By insisting on the exemplary virtue of Pamela, Clarissa, and Sir Charles, however, Richardson discloses the anxieties that he feels about the mutually constitutive forces of "Entertainment" and instruction. As a number of recent critics have emphasized, his efforts to shore up an ideology of inviolate feminine virtue ironically (re) produce the desires that he tries to curb. (24) His readers' reluctance to have their pleasures hemmed in by the monological discourses of "Virtue" reinscribes them as subjects who have internalized the tensions provoked by fiction.

Yet if the novel helps to construct the modern subject, critical debates about the nature of the gendered subject who emerges in and through eighteenth-century domestic fiction often reinscribe the cause-and-effect model of constructivism on which Richardson insists. "Fiction," writes Nancy Armstrong, emerges in the eighteenth century "both as the document and as the agency of cultural history," and "domestic fiction helped to produce a subject who understood herself in the psychological terms that had shaped fiction." (25) Her discussion in Desire and Domestic Fiction, as well as in her collaborative The Imaginary Puritan, focuses on canonical texts and authors--Richardson, Jane Austen, Daniel Defoe, John Milton, the Brontes, and Virginia Woolf, among others--so that she leaves implicit or ambiguous the role that evaluative, aesthetic judgments play in selecting the literary works that she studies. While canonical novels can be illuminated by vast ranges of non-fictional material, their constructivist effects--the psychologized selves reinscribed by domestic fiction--depend on a critical practice that remains indebted to the evaluative imperatives of formalism. In this sense, Armstrong's tacit commitment to aesthetico-constructivism allows her to maintain familiar distinctions between canonical texts and lesser works by assuming that aesthetic values operate on and within the minds of readers, now mobilized not in terms of Fussell's "abstract significance" but those of modernity's gendered self-fashioning. Aesthetico-constructivism is paradoxically always in the position of reinscribing at specific historical moments the ostensibly transhistorical conditions of evaluative judgment, ensuring that even a groundbreaking critical work like Desire and Domestic Fiction can be read (to paraphrase Armstrong's subtitle) as the political history of the canonical novel.

Pushed off stage in all constructivist accounts, though, is a fundamental question: can "bad," popular, or noncanonical fiction also "produce a subject" who then finds herself "reflected" in the texts she values? (26) In other words, is Armstrong describing a general operation of all fictional texts or a specific set of effects that can be produced only by powerfully written, aesthetically compelling works whose intrinsic qualities transcend the moments of their production and reception? If the latter is the case--if constructivism is mobilized as the effect of a prior, or even an a priori, aesthetic evaluation--then critics soon find themselves, with Fussell, rag-picking a few canonical texts from the "rubbish heap of the centuries." In this respect, the argument or unvoiced assumption that canonical texts operate more effectively in shaping the modern subject than, say, second-rate science fiction is marked by the traces of an Arnoldian faith in culture as "an inward condition of the mind and spirit, not an outward set of circumstances." (27) This "inward condition," it seems, is a by-product of the kinds of aesthetic practices and values that have dehistoricized Defoe's seemingly archetypal hero.


If Robinson Crusoe was by far the most popular novel of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it is likely that The Farther Adventures was the second most widely read novel in English for two centuries after its publication in 1719. Although eighteenth and nineteenth-century literary allusions to Robinson Crusoe frequently center on the hero's experiences on the island, the publishing evidence demonstrates, without much ambiguity, that the two novels were read as parts of the same, extended set of "adventures." In her prize-winning article on the Farther Adventures, Melissa Free tracks the publishing history of the more than one thousand editions, reissues, and abridgements of the three volumes of the Crusoe trilogy that were published between 1719 and 1979. (28) Although her article deserves to be read in full, some of its key points need to be emphasized. Free demonstrates that in the eighteenth century less than 4 percent of the Crusoes published consisted of volume one alone; 50 percent included all three volumes (including the Serious Reflections of Robinson Crusoe [1720]); and 46 percent consisted of the first two volumes. By the nineteenth century, the near disappearance of Serious Reflections from new editions and reprintings "reinforced the connection between the first two" volumes. (29) While only 4 percent of the editions published during the nineteenth century print all three Crusoes, 79 percent published between 1800 and 1899 include volumes 1 and 2, and only 17 percent volume 1 alone. Many of these single-volume versions were condensed redactions of the island adventures intended for children. As late as the decade between 1880 and 1889, 83 percent of the editions published included both Strange Surprizing and Farther Adventures. To suggest some idea of the immense popularity of Defoe's two-part novel during the nineteenth century, consider briefly the decade between 1850 and 1859: three new editions of Robinson Crusoe were published, and five abridgements of the island adventures, with one reissue of each; during the same decade twenty-one new editions of volumes 1 and 2 appeared with one abridgement and thirty-two reissues of the full texts of both novels, as well as one reissue of the abridgement. In brief, readers of Robinson Crusoe during the 1850s, were almost always reading a version of the Adventures that included, or ran together, parts 1 and 2.

One of the most reprinted editions in the nineteenth century, the Bohn's Standard Library version, combines the first two Crusoe volumes into a single novel. (30) The Bohn edition of Defoe's Works was part of a series of literary classics, often reedited, that were marketed during the nineteenth century to lowbrow and lower-middlebrow readers. The publishing history of these editions, as Free demonstrates, is complex, and Robert Lowett's 1991 checklist may well underestimate the number of Bohn reprints of its heavily bowdlerized version of Crusoe's Adventures. The re-titled Life and Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, like other nineteenth-century editions, introduces section heads that interrupt Defoe's narrative and parse it into units approximating chapters. New paragraphs begin in the middle of Defoe's original periodic sentences; clauses, sentences, and entire paragraphs disappear, occasionally with connecting phrases or clauses interpolated to smooth transitions. What is truly startling for twenty-first century readers, however, is the stitching together of the two parts of Crusoe's adventures. Part 2 literally begins in the middle of a chapter without any indication that the reader has now moved on to "farther adventures." (31) Three paragraphs of the original 1719 ending, dealing with the disposition of the island and Crusoe's precis of his return to his colony, disappear, and the narrator moves seamlessly into recounting his decade of further adventures. The changes affect readers' perceptions of the kind of narrative they have just finished reading. First Defoe:

But all these things, with an account how 300 Caribbees came and invaded them [the Spanish colonists on the island], and ruined their plantations, and how they fought with that whole number twice, and were at first defeated, and three of them killed; but at last a storm destroying their enemies canoes, they famished or destroyed almost all the rest, and renewed and recovered the possession of their plantation, and still lived upon the island; all these things, with some very surprising incidents in some new adventures of my own, for ten years more, I may perhaps give a farther account of hereafter. (32)

And now Defoe's two Crusoes conflated:

But these things, with some very surprising incidents in some new adventures of my own, for ten years more, I shall give a further account of.

That homely proverb used on so many occasions in England, viz. "That what is bred in the bone will not go out of the flesh," was never more verified than in the story of my life.

The second, perhaps unfamiliar paragraph in the Bohn edition is the beginning of Defoe's Farther Adventures. Reading the truncated nineteenth-century version of the transition between the two novels underscores, retrospectively, how important the final paragraph of Robinson Crusoe is in structuring the reader's expectations about the hero's "new adventures." Defoe's conclusion to his first novel calls attention to a generic shift from a quasi-domestic narrative emphasizing self-reliance and moral introspection to an episodic series of adventures that, first, turns the island into a contentious site of battles between the Spanish colonists Crusoe has left behind and the natives and then into an afterthought that the hero abandons for unspecified, yet "new adventures." Defoe's concern, at the end of part one, is less with an insular identity, the reluctant pilgrim given to introspection and domesticating his environment, than with what happens to the hero once the symbolic significance of the island dissipates into the actualities of a battle-scarred, environmentally stressed, and failing colony. (33)

In effect, the practice of publishing the two parts together offers readers a dialectical view of Defoe's hero: Crusoe is both the puritan moralist and the one-man economy of his twenty-eight years on the island and the merchant-venturer who abruptly abandons his role as a colonial administrator and sets out to make his fortune as an independent trader in the Far East. If numerous introductions and critical commentaries in the nineteenth century praise the edifying morality and narrative realism of part one, then the marketing strategies adopted by publishers and booksellers clearly treat the Farther Adventures as a logical extension--and arguably even an application--of the values promoted during Crusoe's years on the island. Binding the two sets of adventures together affects how we read the end of part one--not simply as a set-up for a money-making sequel, but as a promissory note that the adventures will continue.

In this respect, rather than seeing the Farther Adventures as an aesthetically unsuccessful sequel (the default option for most critics), we need to take as seriously as his Victorian editors did Defoe's contention that "the second part ... is (contrary to the usage of second parts) every way as entertaining as the first, contains as strange and surprising incidents, and as great variety of them; nor is the application less serious or suitable; and doubtless will, to the sober as well as ingenious reader, be every way as profitable and diverting." (34) For 200 years most booksellers and readers apparently agreed. To the extent that Crusoe becomes a mythic figure, that myth, at least through 1920, includes his identity as a merchant.

In the Farther Adventures, as I have argued, Defoe abandons the narrative strategies that he employs in his first Crusoe novel, deliberately rejecting the interlocking discourses of "psychological realism," economic self-sufficiency, and idealized models of European colonialism that structure his hero's stay on the island. (35) Hans Turley has argued that the Crusoe trilogy, read as a whole, describes a piratical, homosocial self that stands outside of, and opposed to, the domestic ideology of a feminized, psychologized identity. (36) In extending Turley's argument, I have suggested that in the Farther Adventures Defoe self-consciously turns away from Crusoe's island and the assumptions and values of its insular narrative: the hero's puritanical self-scrutiny, the proto-colonialist exploitation of the natural world and non-European peoples, and the fictions of economic autarchy. After Crusoe leaves the island midway through the novel, Defoe develops the narrative strategies and lays out the ideological concerns that shape his subsequent career as a novelist. Puritanical introspection gives way to tub-thumping assertions of European--that is, British and Protestant--superiority to South Asian, Chinese, and Mongol cultures. The Farther Adventures rejects models (however embryonic or contested) of psychological identity for an archetypal narrative of adventure, figured as a sequence of dangers, near escapes, descriptions of exotic locales, and often hostile peoples. Crusoe's sociocultural heroism depends on signifiers--Englishness, Christianity, economic probity, and civility--that are both internalized as the basis for self-identity and brandished as weapons to assert his moral authority in a hostile and embattled world. Robinson Crusoe, in short, is the exception in Defoe's career as a novelist, and the Bohn edition and others like it suggest the extent to which the septuagenarian merchant of the Farther Adventures inhabits (if only as a ghostly presence) the allusions to the self-reliance, morality, and salvation that define the Victorian fascination with Crusoe.

If the hacked and patched versions of Crusoe familiar to many eighteenth- and nineteenth-century readers were no less concerned with masculine self-fashioning than Defoe's original novels, the two-part adventures survived in the Victorian era primarily as a book for children. Among the numerous nineteenth-century writers and critics who testify to the ubiquity of the Adventures as a children's book, William Hazlitt declares that it "excited the first and most powerful influence upon the juvenile mind in England." (37) Charles Dickens, an avid reader of both parts of the hero's adventures, writes that Crusoe "of all the crowd of other books ... has impressed one solitary foot-print on the shore of boyish memory, whereof the tread of generations should not stir the lightest grain of sand." (38) Thomas Babington Maccaulay recalls that the novel "was my delight before I was five years old, and has been the delight of thousands of boys" since. (39) In what Free calls "probably the most influential piece of Crusoe criticism in the latter half of the [nineteenth] century," Leslie Stephens pronounced the novel "a book for boys rather than men, [one that] pleased all the boys in Europe for near a hundred and fifty years"; his daughter, Virginia Woolf, recalled late in her life that "we have all had Robinson Crusoe read aloud to us as children." (40) Although, as Dickens's "boyish memory" of a "solitary footprint" suggests, Victorian readers may have been mesmerized by Crusoe's adventures on the island, most of the editions that were read aloud to children included, or conflated, parts 1 and 2. Hazlitt, Dickens, Macaulay, and Woolf probably were probably a bit sharper than the average denizen of Victorian nurseries, yet they all testify to what we might call the juvenalizing of Defoe's novel. As a two-part, masculinist adventure novel, Crusoe's Adventures contextualizes his theological self-examination and self-reliance as the shaping of a robust British identity: part-rebel, part-explorer and colonizer, part-administrator, and part-freeboooting merchant.

The erasure of Farther Adventures from critical history in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is, in effect, a necessary part of a formalist dialectic that turns the first half of Defoe's erstwhile children's classic into a foundational masterpiece of novelistic realism. Modern critics, in contrast to their Victorian predecessors, focus almost exclusively on the Strange Surprizing Adventures, turning the novel into a single, thematically unified work that, in some respect, is about constructing the self. David Marshall, for example, argues that the hero's "repeated and at time almost compulsive acts of autobiography" work "to both project and protect the self in its metamorphoses." Moreover, because Crusoe "has projected himself into the landscape," the thematic unity of the novel, centered on the act of self-narration, is coextensive with "the island [that] has become his autobiography." (41) But this psychological and thematic coherence cannot be extended to the second half of Farther Adventures when Crusoe abandons the island, and the colonists on it, with a ringing rejection: "I have now done with my island, and all manner of discourse about it; and whoever reads the rest of my memorandums would do well to turn his thoughts entirely from it" (374). If Anna Neill is correct in suggesting that in Farther Adventures, "Crusoe's reflections become increasingly less authoritative, and his identity less secure," (42) then the hero's explicit rejection of the island as an experiment in or as a model of colonialism also implies Defoe's turning away from representations of a "secure" identity:

the last letters I had from any of them was by my partner's means; who afterwards sent another sloop to the place, and who sent me word, tho' I had not the letter till five years after it was written, that [the white inhabitants] went on but poorly, were malecontent with their long stay there ... and that they begg'd of him to write me, to think of the promise I had made to fetch them away, that they might see their own country again before they dy'd. (374-75)

Implicit in Crusoe's departure from the island is Defoe's rejection of both the hero's "autobiographical acts" and of the narrative strategies that allow critics, like McKeon, to see in Crusoe's "internalization" of public modes of self-presentation the creation of the "experimental identity of the Christian capitalist." (43) By yoking Crusoe's psychological and economic identity reflexively to the island, McKeon, Marshall, and hundreds of other critics depend on the prior canonization of the first half of the Adventures, either ignoring or explaining away Defoe's insistence that his second novel is "every way as profitable and diverting" as his first.

In an important sense, then, these very sharp critics end up arguing for the unity of the organic half, reasserting, in a variety of convincing ways, the formalist judgment that the Strange Surprizing Adventures is superior to its sequel. They're right: our assessment that the first Crusoe novel is more artistically successful than its sequel cannot be challenged in any meaningful way. But neither can the historicist or anthropological view that the critical tradition predicated on the "rise" of the novel and of the modern self allows us retrospectively to project cognitive, intentionalist explanations for the success of Defoe's first novel into the mind of the author. Mind, intention, and genius are, as Latour suggests, the products of complex networks and strategies: Defoe's "mind," in this respect, becomes an artifact of the projected aesthetic unity of the narrative as it has been reinterpreted, in aesthetico-constructivist terms, since the mid-twentieth century. To dismiss Farther Adventures--and it's a safe bet that more critics would agree with Anna Neill's assessment of the novel than with Turley's or mine--forces us, however, to confront a fundamental paradox: if we assume that Defoe simply wrote a slapdash sequel to make money (even though he may have been experimenting with the kinds of narrative strategies that he employed later in Captain Singleton) we have no explanation for the publishing history that Free meticulously documents.

Logically, then, we have to choose among a half dozen overlapping, but nonetheless puzzling, alternatives. (1) The popularity of Farther Adventures could suggest that either two centuries of readers did not notice the discrepancies in aesthetic quality between the two halves, or (2), if they did, they were not troubled enough by the sequel's lack of organic unity or the hero's "less secure" identity to stop reading. (3) As the second half of a children's book, the Farther Adventures signaled a course of maturation for its readers, from five-year old adolescents in the nursery to juvenile adventurers off to seek their fortunes in distant islands or public schools. In this respect, the lessons that Crusoe embodies morph from individual self-reliance to object lessons in the ways to deal with a hostile world. (4) The values and assumptions of lyric organicism that Poovey argues now dominate critical practice did not develop until the twentieth century, and readers of Defoe's novel before then entertained different expectations about the narrative structure and psychological verisimilitude demanded by "adventures." (5) If such organicist principles had emerged into a paradigm of critical practice and readerly expectations, they were willingly suspended for adventure fiction, particularly by and for juvenile readers. (6) The paradigms for adventure fiction before World War I allowed children to intuit a formalist unity in the Farther Adventures that critics no longer recognize.

Perhaps more plausibly than any of these tongue-in-cheek alternatives taken in isolation is the possibility that readers saw for two hundred years what modern critics have seen--the construction of the moral, psychological self--but were indifferent to the values and assumptions of a constructivist model that they found childish, feminizing, or distracting. The abridgements of Strange Surprizing Adventures that began appearing within weeks of the novel's publication emphasize the hero's ingenuity rather than his psychological suffering or moral self-scrutiny. (44) Conflating or abridging the two-part Adventures, in this light, becomes a way of masculinizing or remasculinizing an otherwise dangerously domesticated self. Whatever one imagines going through the mind of the toddler Macaulay, the tensions that characterize aesthetico-constructivist arguments produce inconsistencies: readers who are able to distinguish between the "good" and bad halves of Robinson Crusoe can recognize or intuit the ways in which the novel helps to shape their imaginations and social identities. By this logic, readers who neither know nor care that the inexpensive Bohn edition runs together two separate novels still must be unwittingly susceptible to the logic of aesthetico-constructivist distinctions between the two Crusoe novels so that only the island adventures mold "boys" into "men." I find it tough to believe that, without recognizing it, junior clerks had their senses of selfhood shaped, even in the nursery, by Robinson Crusoe, then continued reading (or listening) to Farther Adventures but were somehow immune to Defoe's older and less introspective hero refashioning their impressionable self-images into something along the lines of what Turley calls the piratical subject.

The crucial problem, to reiterate, is not with constructivist interpretations of eighteenth-century literature, but with the disciplinary tendency to invest only canonical texts--Fussell's "tiny selection" of masterpieces--with the power to reshape self and society. The few critics who have tried to reintroduce Farther Adventures into the canon resituate the second Crusoe novel in the contexts of seventeenth and eighteenth-century voyage literature and Defoe's obsession with opening trade to, and planting English colonies on, the west coast of South America--an obsession documented in his Review of the State of the English Nation and his final novel, A New Voyage around the World. (45) To the extent that we see Defoe becoming fascinated by the narrative of episodic adventures in Captain Singleton, Colonel Jack, and A New Voyage, it becomes possible to read Farther Adventures as an effort to rethink the premises of fictional psychology. Adventure fiction as a genre makes few claims to promote the kind of moral interiority that critics associate with domestic fiction. As a coda, consider another case study of constructivist popular fiction.

The best-selling American novelist, by a long shot, of the first half of the twentieth century was Edgar Rice Burroughs. (46) Before writing the twenty-plus volumes of the Tarzan series, Burroughs made his mark as a groundbreaking science-fiction novelist, authoring a dozen works set on Mars. Ray Bradbury (a writer who himself haunts the liminal regions between canonical celebration and condescending dismissal) suggested in 1971 that Burroughs "probably changed more destinies than any other writer in American history," and credits his predecessor's Martian novels with firing the imagination of two generations of scientists, adventure-seekers, and daydreamers: "Burroughs and his alter ego John Carter, seized off to Mars by impossible dreams, pulled ten million boys after them and changed America's scientific territory forever." (47) The grandchildren of the Victorian boys caught up in Crusoe's adventures, according to Bradbury, had their identities shaped by these classics of interplanetary science fiction. An aesthetico-constructivist or new formalist critic might find several ways to blunt the challenge that Bradbury's claims pose to time-honored distinctions between canonical literature and pulp fiction. Bradbury's original text dates from his comments at a roundtable, on the eve of the last Mariner mission to Mars (Carl Sagan, among others, was on the panel), and his remarks were directed to an audience hardly versed in literary evaluation; he is speaking about the effects of reading science fiction on "boys," reinscribing traditional constructions of adolescent masculine identity; and he is thereby constructing an audience, in Fussell's terms, unwilling or unable to appreciate great literature, and more than happy to wallow in the "rubbish heap" of interplanetary adventure. But efforts by literary critics to laugh off or explain away Bradbury's enthusiasm for Burroughs must try to distinguish between literary and subliterary constructivism: good novels construct the modern, psychologized self; bad novels construct a parodic, unreflective self.

In the third of his Martian novels, Warlord of Mars, Burroughs's hero, John Carter, for the umpteenth time, is confronted by imminent disaster: the destruction of the air fleet of Helium--the home of the noble, red-skinned race who represent the apex of Martian civilization--by the evil "yellow hordes" of the north. The planet's fate, like the hero's, hangs once again in the balance when Carter springs into unreflective action:

The impulse that moves me and the doing of the thing seems simultaneous; for if my mind goes through the tedious formality of reasoning, it must be a subconscious act of which I am not objectively aware. Psychologists tell me that, as the subconscious does not reason, too close a scrutiny of my mental activities might prove anything but flattering; but be that as it may, I have often won success while the thinker would have still been at the endless task of comparing various judgments. (48)

This celebration of action over thought lies at the heart of the appeal of the action-adventure saga. Carter embodies a populist distrust of explanation, a preference for chivalric instinct and emotion over the pale cast of thought and the fashionable psychology of pre-World War I America. In an important sense, Burroughs's fiction represents a fundamental rejection of the logic of Armstrong's thesis: the heroic masculine subject must reject the psychologism of domestic fiction and its "too close a scrutiny" of a feminized self given to the "endless task" of introspection. In formalist terms, The Warlord of Mars has no true history because it can function only as "the document," rather than "the agency of cultural history," and it belongs in the undifferentiated "rubbish heap" that is, at least in Fussell's sense, without form. In constructivist terms, however, The Warlord of Mars represents the logical end of adventure fiction: the rejection of domestic interiority that lies behind Crusoe's assertion, "I have now done with my island, and all manner of discourse about it," and the "endless task of comparing various [aesthetic] judgments."


I suspect I devoted more time struggling with drafts of this essay than Defoe spent writing Farther Adventures. I began by trying to write a kind of formalist analysis of new formalism, a careful unpacking of the arguments advanced by Marjorie Levinson, Susan Wolfson, Charles Altieri, and others, in order to encourage scholars to rethink our disciplinary investments in the "return" to the text. Sad task and hard, because as the historian and anthropologist Greg Dening puts it, "surrenders to conventionality are what disciplines are." (49) Left in a file on my desktop are my own serious reflections on formalism: half-paragraphs, notes, and sentences that meander like Crusoe in the Indian Ocean. They include mandrake roots about form as an orphaned metaphor drawn from the philosophy of mathematics; an all-middle, no-end analysis of why the semiotics of mathematical formalism and Neoplatonism are essential to a cross-disciplinary understanding of form; and a long rejoinder to new formalist critiques of "ideological criticism." (50) Although it would be nice to think that an insightful formalist could discern an organic unity among these shreds and patches of argument, I have to content myself with suggesting that the formalist critiques directed against the theory of the 1970s and 80s are misplaced: the threat to an ideology of aesthetic autonomy comes from the sorts of cross-disciplinary work represented, in this essay, by the work of Latour, Lewontin, and Dening.

The ongoing testing, refinement, and reworking of constructivist arguments can occur only through multi-disciplinary approaches that test and recalibrate the very limits of disciplinarity itself. (51) If the sophisticated anthropology of knowledge poses a new kind of challenge to the always threatened aesthetic object, that challenge is more constructive than destructive. Networks proliferate, reform, fall into disuse, and seek new and more robust affiliations, and, as Free suggests, publication records, sales figures, and editing practices are integral parts of the networks that produce aesthetic judgments.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


(1) See Helen Thompson, Ingenuous Subjection: Compliance and Power in the Eighteenth-Century Domestic Novel (U. of Pennsylvania Press, 2005); Michael McKeon, The Origins of the English Novel, 1660-1740 (Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1987), and his The Secret History of Domesticity: Public, Private, and the Division of Knowledge (Johns Hopkins U. Press, 2005). Constructivism, in its different guises, has a range of subtly shaded meanings in different disciplines; see particularly N. Katherine Hayles, "Constrained Constructivism: Locating Scientific Inquiry in the Theater of Representation," New Orleans Review 18 (1991): 76-85, and Seymour Papert and Idit Harrel, eds., Constructionism: Research Reports and Essays, 1985-1990 (Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1991). For critiques of progressivist historiography, see Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern (Harvard U. Press, 1993).

(2) Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson, and bidding (Stanford U. Press, 1957). The modifications and critiques of Watt's thesis are too numerous to detail here.

(3) Matthew Arnold, "Culture and Anarchy," "Culture and Anarchy "and Other Writings, ed. Stefan Collini (Cambridge U. Press, 1993), 93.

(4) See particularly, Jody Greene, The Trouble with Ownership: Literary Property and Authorial Liability in England, 1660-1730 (U. of Pennsylvania Press, 2005); Clifford Siskin, The Work of Writing: Literature and Social Change in Britain, 1700-1830 (Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1998); William Beatty Warner, Licensing Entertainment: The Elevation of Novel Reading in Britain, 1684-1750 (U. of California Press, 1998); Lennard Davis, Factual Fictions: The Origins of the English Novel (Columbia U. Press, 1983); Catherine Gallagher, Nobody's Story: The Vanishing Acts of Women Writers in the Marketplace, 1670-1820 (U. of California Press, 1995); Tony Pollock, Gender and the Fiction of the Public Sphere, 1690-1755 (New York: Routledge, 2008); and, on Defoe, Maximilian E. Novak, "Novel or Fictional Memoir: The Scandalous Publication of Robinson Crusoe," Studies in the Age of Johnson 18 (2007): 207-23.

(5) See, for example, Jonathan Loesberg, A Return to Aesthetics: Autonomy, Indifference, and Postmodernism (Stanford U. Press, 2005).

(6) Mary Poovey, "The Model System of Contemporary Literary Criticism," Critical Inquiry 27 (2001): 432, 421, 433.

(7) For a notable exception that makes important contributions to the historicizing of the couplet form, see J. Paul Hunter, "Formalism and History: Binarism and the Anglophone Couplet," MLQ61 (2000): 109-29. See also the essays collected in David Richer, ed., Ideology and Form in Eighteenth-Century Literature (Lubbock: Texas Tech U. Press, 1999).

(8) On constitutive metaphors, see Nancy Leys Stepan, "Race and Gender: The Role of Analogy in Science," Isis 77 (1986): 261-77.

(9) Richard Lewontin, "Facts and the Factitious in the Natural Sciences," Critical Inquiry 18 (1991): 147. On the significance of "events" in science studies, see Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Duke U. Press, 2007).

(10) Catherine Gallagher, "Formalism and Time," MLQ61 (2000): 231.

(11) Paul Fussell, Jr., Poetic Meter and Poetic Form (New York: Random House, 1965), 166.

(12) Fussell, Poetic Meter" and Poetic Form, 166.

(13) Bruno Latour, Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists through Society (Harvard U. Press, 1987), 242; subsequent citations are parenthetic. See also Latour and Steve Woolgar, Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts (London: Sage, 1979), and Charles Bazerman, Shaping Written Knowledge: The Genre and Activity of the Experimental Article in Science (Madison: U. of Wisconsin Press, 1988).

(14) Charles Baudelaire, "The Painter of Modern Life," in Baudelaire: Selected Writings on Art and Literature, trans. P. E. Chavret (London: Penguin, 1992), 402.

(15) See Jack Stillinger, Multiple Authorship and the Myth of the Solitary Genius (Oxford U. Press, 1991).

(16) See Charles Altieri, "Taking Lyrics Literally: Teaching Poetry in a Prose Culture," New Literary History 32 (2001): 259-81; Loesberg, A Return to Aesthetics; Susan Wolfson, "Reading for Form," MLQ 61 (2000): 1-16; Denis Donoghue, "Teaching Literature: The Force of the Form," New Literary History 30 (1999): 5-24; and Michael Clark, Revenge of the Aesthetic: The Place of Literature in Theory Today (U. of California Press, 2000).

(17) Marjorie Levinson, "What is New Formalism?" PMLA 122 (2007): 565.

(18) Poovey, "Model System," 419.

(19) The key text is Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist, ed. Michael Holquist (Austin: U. of Texas Press, 1981).

(20) Lisa Zunshine, Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel (Columbus: Ohio State U. Press, 2006).

(21) Nicholas Dames, The Physiology of the Novel: Reading, Neural Science, and the Form of Victorian Fiction (Oxford U. Press, 2007): 16; Martha Nussbaum, Poetic Justice." The Literary Imagination and Public Life (Boston: Beacon Press, 1995): 9.

(22) For valuable critiques of the inferences drawn from evolutionary psychology, see the essays collected in Hilary Rose and Steven Rose, eds., Alas, Poor Darwin: Arguments against Evolutionary Psychology (London: Cape, 2000).

(23) Samuel Richardson, The History of Sir Charles Grandison, 3 vols., ed. Jocelyn Harris (Oxford U. Press, 1972), 1:4, 3.

(24) There is a significant body of work on Richardson's efforts to inculcate his conception of female virtue, particularly in his revisions to Clarissa. For representative views, see Martha Koehler, "Epistolary Closure and Triangular Return in Richardson's Clarissa," Journal of Narrative Technique 24 (1994): 153-72; Kevin Cope, "Richardson the Advisor," New Essays on Samuel Richardson, ed. Albert J. Rivero (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996), 17-33; Laura Hinton, "The Heroine's Subjection: Clarissa, Sadomasochism, and Natural Law," Eighteenth-Century Studies 32 (1999): 293-308; and Heather Zias, "Who Can Believe? Sentiment vs. Cynicism in Richardson's Clarissa," Eighteenth-Century Life 27 (2003): 99-123.

(25) Nancy Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel (Oxford U. Press, 1987), 23. See also Nancy Armstrong and Leonard Tennenhouse, The Imaginary Puritan: Literature, Intellectual Labor, and the Origins of Personal Life (U. of California Press, 1992); Deidre Lynch, The Economy of Character: Novels, Market Culture, and the Business of Inner Meaning (U. of Chicago Press, 1998); and Warner, Licensing Entertainment.

(26) On reflection, see Hayden White, "Literature and Social Action: Reflections on the Reflection Theory of Literary Art," New Literary. History 11 (1980): 363-80.

(27) Arnold, Culture and Anarchy, 95.

(28) Melissa Free, "Un-erasing Crusoe: Farther Adventures in the Nineteenth Century," Book History 9 (2006): 89-130. Free draws on Robert W. Lovett, assisted by Charles C. Lovett, "Robinson Crusoe": A Bibliographical Checklist of English Language Editions, 1719-1979 (New York: Greenwood, 1991), but modifies the ways in which Lovett identifies individual editions and reprints. See also the valuable discussion of redactions of Crusoe by Pat Rogers, Literature and Popular Culture in Eighteenth Century. England (Sussex: Harvester, 1985), 162-81.

(29) Free, "Un-erasing Crusoe," 90.

(30) The Novels and Miscellaneous Works of Daniel Defoe, vol. 7: Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner, Bohn's Standard Library (London: Bell, 1988). See Alexis Weedon, Summary. Statistics for George Bell & Sons and the Bohn Libraries 1865-1920, History of the Book: On Demand Series 1 (Oxford: Open U. Press, 1992).

(31) Free, "Unerasing Crusoe," 95, has an image from vol. 7, p. 233, of the 1888 Bohn edition that illustrates this bizarre editing.

(32) Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, ed. Angus Ross (1965; rpr. New York: Penguin, 1985), 299.

(33) On the ecological problems of England's island colonies, see Richard Grove, Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens, and the Origins of Environmentalism, 1600-1860 (Cambridge U. Press, 1995).

(34) The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (New York: Peebles Classics, 1927), 250. All subsequent citations from this edition are given parenthetically.

(35) See my The Far East and the English Imagination, 1600-1730 (Cambridge U. Press, 2006), 177-209.

(36) Hans Turley, "Protestant Evangelism, British Imperialism, and Crusoian Identity," A New Imperial History: Culture, Identity and Modernity in Britain and the Empire, 1660-1840, ed. Kathleen Wilson (Cambridge U. Press, 2004); "The Sublimation of Desire to Apocalyptic Passion in Defoe's Crusoe Trilogy," Imperial Desire: Dissident Sexualities and Colonial Literature, ed. Philip Holden and Richard J. Ruppel (Minneapolis: U. of Minnesota Press, 2003), 3-20; and Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Piracy, Sexuality, and Masculine Identity (New York U. Press, 1999).

(37) William Hazlitt, Introduction, The Works of Daniel De Foe, with a Memoir of His Life and Writings (London: Clements, 1841), 1:cix.

(38) Quoted in Free, "Unerasing Crusoe," 109.

(39) Quoted in Michael Shinagel, ed., Robinson Crusoe: An Authoritative Text, Contexts, and Criticism, 2nd ed. (London: Methuen, 1994), 273.

(40) Stephens, quoted in Free, "Unerasing Crusoe," 109; Woolf, quoted in Max Byrd, ed. Daniel Defoe: A Collection of Critical Essays (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1976), 15.

(41) David Marshall, "Autobiographical Acts in Robinson Crusoe," ELH71 (2004): 899, 917, 916.

(42) Anna Neill, "Crusoe's Farther Adventures: Discovery, Trade, and the Law of Nations," The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 38 (1997): 226.

(43) McKeon, Secret Histories, 625.

(44) The first abridgement, published by T. Cox in 1719, is discussed in Henry Hutchins, Robinson Crusoe and Its Printing, 1719-1731 (Columbia U. Press, 1925), 157.

(45) Markley, Far East and the English Imagination, 210-40.

(46) I discuss Burroughs at length in Dying Planet: Mars in Science and the Imagination (Duke U. Press, 2005), 182-97.

(47) Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Bruce Murray, Carl Sagan, and Walter Sullivan, Mars and the Mind of Man (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), 17, 18.

(48) Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Warlord of Mars (1914; rpr. New York: Ballantine, 1980), 131.

(49) Greg Dening, Performances (U. of Chicago Press), 50.

(50) Frances Ferguson, "Jane Austen, Emma, and the Impact of Form," MLQ61 (2000): 160-61. On the critique of cultural studies and a mislabeled "new historicism," see Levinson, "What is New Formalism?" as well as the essays collected in George Levine, ed., Aesthetics and Ideology (New Brunswick: Rutgers U. Press, 1994).

(51) I am thinking particularly of recent work on systems theory: see Bruce Clarke, Posthuman Metamorphosis: Narrative and Systems (New York: Fordham U. Press, 2008), and Cary Wolfe and William Rasch, eds., Observing Complexity: Systems Theory and Postmodernity (Minneapolis: U. of Minnesota Press, 2000).
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Author:Markley, Robert
Publication:Philological Quarterly
Date:Jun 22, 2007
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