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Graham Holderness

This general issue of Critical Survey ranges from mediaeval to modern literature and drama.

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‘Fanciful associations’

The Perverse Endurance of Derrida’s [sic] ‘logical phallusies’

Niall Gildea

This article concerns the expression ‘logical phallusies’, imputed to Jacques Derrida by Barry Smith in 1992 in a letter arguing against the proposed award to Derrida of an honorary doctorate at Cambridge. Derrida insisted that this expression appeared nowhere in his oeuvre – it has never been found – and yet it has endured, in discussions of Derrida’s work and general legacy, more than any other aspect of Derrida’s ‘Cambridge Affair’. I address two cases of the expression’s weird stubbornness, arguing that its misattribution to Derrida is a gesture which Derrida’s work guards against and undermines – even deconstructs – in advance. The article sounds a note of caution about the ‘post-theoretical’ practice of assimilating philosophers and theorists to the humanities via the decontextualised appropriation of putatively synecdochic buzzwords.

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Fudging the Outcome of Much Ado About Nothing

How the Villains, Don Pedro and Count Claudio, Are Allowed to Stay and Dance

Paul Rapley

This article asserts that in Much Ado About Nothing Shakespeare lays open the rottenness within an arbitrary system of government but does not dare carry the plot to its logical conclusion. The responses to events by the dominant nobles, a prince and a count, are not merely foolish and damaging, but, in light of the guidance of, among others, Girolamo Muzio and Baldassare Castiglione, deeply dishonourable. The playmakers, as the most talented team in the realm licensed for performance entertainment, create a historically credible set of characters, but, possibly because they wish to continue to benefit from their protected status and draw their regular customers, do not make explicit any radical questioning of rank and degree. An analysis of Margaret’s role suggests a strategic ambiguity within the jocular ending.

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Liturgical Time in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

Meditated, Measured and Manipulated

Alireza Mahdipour, Hossein Pirnajmuddin, and Pyeaam Abbasi

Liturgies are communal in nature, and in the context of the medieval Christian economy of time they are developed and utilised to quantify, consecrate, control, utilise and unify time for the comprehensive end of the welfare of the society, both in the Here and in the Here-after. The liturgy was a social institution, and functioned for anniversaries, holy days, holidays and rituals that were the means of medieval social integrity. In the economy of socio-political and ethical life, the medieval Church linked the sacred to the secular by means of the liturgy. They were used for meditation, as well as a measurement of time, and arguably they were manipulated to parody or satirise the strictly hierarchal estates of the medieval society. Though one of the least liturgical books of his time, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is framed by the liturgical institution of the pilgrimage. Actually a pilgrim travelogue, it depicts the secularisation of liturgy and its appropriation for social control, and paradoxically, a carnivalesque celebration of the reversal of social hierarchy.

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Macarena García-Avello

Even though Iris Murdoch’s novels depict a profoundly patriarchal society, most scholars have generally failed to identify any feminist aspirations in her work. This article aims to reassess her legacy as a writer by analysing from a feminist perspective one of her most acclaimed novels, The Sea, The Sea (1978). The tension between the androcentric approach of a self-deluded male narrator and a female author whose worldview is strongly influenced by her gender results in a feminist critique which is not based on the recovery of a female voice, but on the exploration of patriarchy within the novel and the production of a feminist epistemology derived from a dialogue between Murdoch’s fiction and philosophy.

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Urban Decay or the Uncanny Return of Dionysus

An Analysis of the Ruins in Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’

Roohollah Datli Beigi, Pyeaam Abbasi, and Zahra Jannessari Ladani

Written in the familiar genre of ruin poems, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’ (1818) is well-expressive of the poet’s profound hatred of tyranny. One of the distinctive features of the poem is the vividly visual images it provides of the ruined statue and the desert as the setting of the poem. Focusing on the images of the desert and ruins, and using the concept of urban decay and mytho-archetypal notions, this study attempts to show that the ruins of the poem anticipate the modern phenomenon of urban decay as the return of the repressed in city-forms. However, what the poem presents as destruction, death, ruins and decay is in fact the potential of bringing about spring and regeneration. Reading this poem in the light of the mentioned concepts provides the reader with an understanding of the function of the ruins in Shelley’s poems as an uncanny Dionysian defiance against both the tyranny of his age and the rationalism of the Enlightenment period.

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Whoso List to Find?

Hard Facts, Soft Data, and Women Who Count

Elizabeth Mazzola

Seeing what Englishwomen saw in the early modern period brings them into view in a variety of new ways, many of them managed and enhanced by the machinery of cheap print. In contrast with Petrarchan poetry, which imagined women with fear and described love as plague, print established other models of health and wellness, and other ways of registering women’s powers. Women known as searchers who were charged to enter houses and locate plague rather than flee from it shared their findings with town officials who printed up statistics in weekly Bills of Mortality. The searcher was both a ‘harbinger of disaster’ and a tool of recovery, and popular ballads of the time frequently deploy her example along with her abilities to avoid ruin and register signs of life. These ballads supply alternatives to Petrarchan demographics, and I examine the ways early modern female poets draw upon their methodology, too.

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Anti-Racism and Existential Philosophy

An interview with Kathryn Sophia Bell

Kathryn Sophia Belle and Edward O’Byrn

Kathryn Sophia Belle’s (formerly Kathryn T. Gines’) publications engaged in this interview:

2003 (Fanon/Sartre 50 yrs) “Sartre and Fanon Fifty Years Later: To Retain or Reject the Concept of Race,” Sartre Studies International, Vol. 9, Issue 2 (2003): 55-67,

2010 (Convergences) “Sartre, Beauvoir, and the Race/Gender Analogy: A Case for Black Feminist Philosophy” in Convergences: Black Feminism and Continental Philosophy, pages 35-51. Eds. Maria Davidson, Kathryn T. Gines, Donna Dale Marcano. New York: SUNY, 2010.

2011 (Wright/Legacy) “The Man Who Lived Underground: Jean-Paul Sartre and the Philosophical Legacy of Richard Wright,” Sartre Studies International, Vol. 17, Issue 2 (2011): 42-59,

2012 (Reflections) “Reflections on the Legacy and Future of Continental Philosophy with Regard to Critical Philosophy of Race,” The Southern Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 50, Issue 2 (June 2012): 329-344,

Open access

Matthias Pauwels

This article discusses the persistent deployment of racial stereotypes in contemporary stand-up comedy and its potential hegemonic or counter-hegemonic effects. It asks whether racial stereotypes should be avoided or condemned altogether, considering the risks of interpretative ambiguity and offensiveness, or, alternatively, whether there are specific performative strategies and conditions that might make racial stereotype humour a powerful weapon in the anti-racist toolbox. As regards the first, several critiques are considered and it is shown that racial stereotype humour, and its reception, may harbour multiple, subtle forms of racism. In terms of defences, racial stereotype humour’s role of discharging stubborn psycho-affective investments is highlighted, as well as its function as ‘subversive play’. The article further pays special attention to aspects of audience reception (such as issues of missed subtlety and ‘clever’ laughter) and the importance of the comic’s racial positionality in performing racial stereotypes.

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Apprenticeship and Learning by Doing

The Role of Privileged Enclaves in Early Modern French Cities

Jeff Horn

In France, formal guild training was not as ubiquitous a means of socializing young people into a trade as it has been portrayed by scholars. Guilds were limited geographically, and in many French cities privileged enclaves controlled by clerical or noble seigneurs curbed the sway of corporate structures, or even created their own. Eighteenth-century Bordeaux provides an extreme example of how limited guild training was in France’s fastest-growing city. The clerical reserves of Saint-Seurin and Saint-André that housed much of the region’s industrial production had quasi-corporate structures with far more open access and fewer training requirements. In Bordeaux, journeymen contested masters’ control over labor and masters trained almost no apprentices themselves. Formal apprenticeship mattered exceptionally little when it came to training people to perform a trade in Bordeaux.