More Solid Learning: New Perspectives on Alexander Pope's Dunciad

Overview

Until this book, there has not been a collection that focuses exclusively on Pope's satiric masterpiece. The seeming resistance to fully engage the poem belies its centrality within eighteenth-century culture. Like Gulliver's Travels or The Beggar's Opera, the poem's hybridity actually changes and imrpoves upon the forms it parodically controls. But unlike those texts, it proves difficult to teach, despite multiple points of entry. The essays in this volume attempt to teach the poem from a variety of perspectives...

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Overview

Until this book, there has not been a collection that focuses exclusively on Pope's satiric masterpiece. The seeming resistance to fully engage the poem belies its centrality within eighteenth-century culture. Like Gulliver's Travels or The Beggar's Opera, the poem's hybridity actually changes and imrpoves upon the forms it parodically controls. But unlike those texts, it proves difficult to teach, despite multiple points of entry. The essays in this volume attempt to teach the poem from a variety of perspectives and, in doing so, to illuminate its role as literary history, cultural artifact, and material object. They suggest the ways the poem interacts with and influences the dynamic milieu from which it springs. George Rousseau once remarked that The Dunciad had yet to be mined as either material or as a material object. His essay in this volume begins to redress that state of affairs by exploring the relationship between Pope's psychosexual development and his antipathy to opera. Approaching this under-studied Popeian aversion from a second perspective, Valerie Rumbold explores the theme of opera within The Dunciad in Four Books to reveal internal tensions and complicated examples of shared authorship in the poem. Her essay illustrates the challenge historical analysis poses to the tradition of reading the poem as an expression of absolutes. Laura J. Rosenthal's and Eric V. Chandler's essays each examine, in different terms, the construction in the 1740s. Similarly, Linda Zionkowski discusses Pope's centrality in the debates over the often-gendered nature of literary labor, and his repudiation in Book IV of The Dunciad of the concepts of masculine conduct from which he was excluded. Catherine Ingrassia looks at the reconstruction of Pope's body and persona (which both suffer from a compromised masculinity) in Edmund Curll's pamphlets responding to the 1728 Dunciad. Thomas Jemielity reads The Dunciad as 'mock-apocalypse' and suggest how such a reading complicates the poem's satiric nature. Claudia N. Thomas discusses the poem's Rabelaisian qualities in terms that go beyond Stalleybrass and Whites' or Bakhtin's use of the epithet; rather, she is concerned with Pope's adaptation of the Renaissance satirist's 'Rabelaisian' imagery and purposes. The appearance of a collection on The Dunciad nearly a decade after Pope's tercentenary suggests the poem's continued vitality and, more important, centrality to understanding the culture of eighteenth-century England: it remains a touchstone that captures the tenor of the period it helped create.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611481198
  • Publisher: Bucknell University Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2000
  • Pages: 254
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Catherine Ingrassia is Associate Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, and is the author of Authorship, Commerce, and Gender in Early Eighteenth-Century England: A Culture of Paper Credit. Claudia N. Thomas is Associate Professor of English at Wake Forest University, and is the author of Alexander Pope and His Eighteenth-Century Women Readers.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: "More Solid Learning": Pope, The Dunciad, and the Academy 13
"et in Arcadia homo": Opera, Gender, and Sexual Politics in The Dunciad 33
Ideology and Opportunism: The Role of Handel in Pope's The Dunciad in Four Books 62
"Trials of Manhood": Cibber, The Dunciad, and the Masculine Self 81
Pope's "Girl of the Game": The Prostitution of the Author and the Business of Culture 106
Not "The Only Trifler in the Nation": Pope and the Man of Leisure in The Dunciad 129
Dissecting the Authorial Body: Pope, Curll, and the Portrait of a "Hack Writer" 147
"Consummatum Est": Alexander Pope's 1743 Dunciad and Mock-Apocalypse 166
"Writing Nonsense": Pope, Rabelais, and the Fair 189
Notes 208
Notes on Contributors 244
Index 246
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