Happy ‘pub’ days: Brink, Looser, Wells
Three Department of English faculty members are celebrating recent and forthcoming books and journals spanning a range of interests. Titles include a Spenser biography, a Jane Austen-themed journal issue, and a magazine focused on prison writing.
The Early Spenser, 1554–80: 'Minde on Honour Fixed' (Manchester University Press, 2020)
Brink's provocative biography shows that Spenser was not the would-be court poet whom Karl Marx described as 'Elizabeth's arse-kissing poet'. In this readable and informative account, Spenser is depicted as the protégé of a circle of London clergymen, who expected him to take holy orders. Brink shows that the young Spenser was known to Alexander Nowell, author of Nowell's Catechism and Dean of St. Paul's. Significantly revising the received biography, Brink argues that that it was Harvey alone who orchestrated Familiar Letters (1580). He used this correspondence to further his career and invented the portrait of Spenser as his admiring disciple.
Contextualising Spenser's life by comparisons with Shakespeare and Sir Walter Raleigh, Brink shows that Spenser shared with Sir Philip Sidney an allegiance to the early modern chivalric code. His departure for Ireland was a high point, not an exile.
Brink is professor emeritus of English at ASU and was the founding director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
What’s Next for Jane Austen? Special issue of Texas Studies in Literature and Language 61:4 (Winter 2019)
With Janine Barchas, Devoney Looser co-edited this University of Texas Press journal issue with five scholarly essays and 19 “field reports” from all corners of the Austen world, from the US and UK to Australia and Pakistan, by people like filmmaker Whit Stillman and playwright Kate Hamill. From the editors’ introduction:
The literary celebrity and cultural reach of Jane Austen (1775–1817) has grown exponentially over the past decade. In quick succession, half a dozen bicentenary celebrations for each of her published novels prompted not just gatherings of her existing loyal fans but waves of books, films, art, and essays about the author's life and work that garnered new devotees. The Bank of England confirmed the modern cultural currency of Austen's celebrity when it placed her portrait on its ten-pound note.
The heady crescendo to this unprecedented scholarly and artistic activity around Austen's writings came in the form of the two hundredth anniversary of the author's death on July 18, 2017. The worldwide attention for Austen on that day included countless op-eds and news headlines, a flurry of social media activity, significant museum exhibitions, and a no-holds-barred grand ceremony at Winchester Cathedral. All scholars and fans of Austen, including the two of us, have benefitted professionally and personally from this recent global attention. We recognize the serendipity of a string of anniversaries that direct the public gaze to the author about whom we research, write, and care.
Looser is Foundation Professor of English in literature at ASU.
Iron City Magazine 4 (2019)
Cornelia “Corri” Wells is founding editor-in-chief of this journal of writing by and for the incarcerated. She works with ASU students and alumni to produce one issue per year. From the journal’s website:
Iron City Magazine is an online and print journal devoted entirely to writing and art from the prison world. It is our hope that through this creative platform, incarcerated artists and writers find value in their stories, fuel for personal growth, and pride in their accomplishments. Prisoners are, first and foremost, people. They own stories worthy of telling and sharing. Iron City Magazine aims to highlight these stories in a way more permanent than a private journal.
In addition, we serve to remind the general public that prisoners can make meaningful contributions to their communities. So often, this potential is forgotten or overshadowed by their crimes. By validating inmates’ humanity through writing and art, we encourage a culture of understanding and transformation.
Wells is a lecturer in English and director of Prison English Programming at ASU.