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Illness, Metaphor, and Bells

Campanology under COVID-19

Remi Chiu

Throughout 2020 and 2021, bells have rung in a variety of COVID-related rituals in the West, ranging from large-scale religious and civic rites, to ad hoc neighborhood and hospital initiatives, to anti-racist memorials that simultaneously spoke to the health crisis at hand. Taking stock of how these COVID bell-ringing rituals were formalized, their structures and actions, and the historical precedents from which they drew their meanings, this article investigates what the sounds of bells and the rituals of bell-ringing communicated about COVID, how they shaped our personal and collective experiences of the crisis, and what functions they were expected to serve during this liminal period. It reveals how, owing to the historical polysemy of bells on the one hand and the social uncertainties of living with COVID on the other, those rituals generated vivid symbolisms and mobilized powerful emotions that sometimes brought about unintended consequences.

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‘Besmeared with Sluttish Time’

Resisting Lateness or Trying to in Sir Thomas Wyatt’s Poetry

Mohamed Salah Eddine Madiou

One of the most remarkable things about Thomas Wyatt’s poetry is how strikingly it tends to be neglected in Renaissance studies. This article focuses on some of Wyatt’s sonnets and muses on why the poet obsesses over time therein. While sonnets are generally said to be about love, Wyatt’s seem to be not only about this overfamiliar notion but also about the notion of time. The poet’s concern about time in his poetry is however not a solo concern, meaning it is not expressed on its own; rather, it is coupled in an astonishing complexity to the poet’s preoccupation with death. Wyatt in fact experienced impending death at an early age in his lifetime due to illness, which, I explain, is precisely what sets off those temporal reflections. Impending death can indeed trigger in one an instant reflection on time in that one becomes more attentive to its value, movement, and transience and feels the urgency to save and get more of it, which is generally called lateness. Wyatt’s poetry being imbued by lateness makes it endemic to a certain kind of style: a late style.

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Hussein A. Alhawamdeh

This article examines the transformation of the trope of the renegade character in late seventeenth-and early nineteenth-century English drama, as represented by John Dryden’s Don Sebastian (1689) and its adaptation by Frederick Reynolds as The Renegade (1812). Reynolds adopts the trope of Restoration ‘cultural renegade’, or what I call ‘Restoration gone cultural revolutionary protagonist’, to reflect on the military alliance between England of George III and the Oriental Muslims in Egypt in 1801 against their common enemy, Napoleon Bonaparte. The renegade character in the plays of Dryden and Reynolds transcends religious limitations of the negative connotations of betrayal and fosters cross-cultural interactions.

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‘Failed Feminism’

Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl in the Chinese Market

Yingjie Duan and Junwu Tian

In Vinegar Girl, a 2016 fictional adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew, Anne Tyler exhibits an ambivalent treatment of the female predicaments left by William Shakespeare: while she invests her modern version of Katherina with linguistic and intellectual independence emblematic of female resistance to patriarchal disciplines, she somehow acquiesces in the fixed familial place and the stereotypical images of women in the monolithic patriarchal system. When the novel was introduced into the Chinese mainland in 2017, the Chinese publisher, out of commercial concerns, advertised it as a highly feminist text through the delicate manipulation of the translation of its title and a series of paratextual manoeuvres, to the detriment of the novel’s ambiguous complexities of gender issues. The marketing strategies nevertheless backfired on one of China’s social media platforms and rendered the novel a relatively ‘failed’ feminist text against China’s unique market and media background in the last decade.

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Harold Bloom and William Shakespeare

The ‘Saints of Repetition’ and the Towers of Babel

Taoufiq Sakhkhane

Harold Bloom’s The Western Canon (1994) and Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (1999) represent a scholar’s take on a major figure in Western literature, namely, William Shakespeare. All figures, according to Bloom, either converge upon or take their point of departure from Shakespeare in a way that rehabilitates the myth of the Original Englishman and accordingly recreates a Western canon, some universal anthology, whose centre is Shakespeare, while all later generations of writers are, in Elias Canetti’s words, ‘saints of repetition’, who can only translate what they happen to ‘overhear’ from the master and keep vibrant a tradition that can ‘make us at home out of doors, foreign abroad’. Though Bloom hardly uses the term ‘translation’ while tracking the genealogy of such ‘influence’ and the ‘anxieties’ therein implicated, one can readily detect a Gordian knot out of which such theorisations and explorations emanate: translation is here foregrounded as a smokescreen designed to close rather than disclose.

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Manipulation of Theatrical Audience Size

Non-existent Plays and Murderous Lenders

Anna Faktorovich

Thomas Nashe’s’ satirical ‘ten thousand’ attendees at a London performance exaggeration is similarly absurd to most previous studies of audience size during the British Renaissance. These claims are countered in this article with a realistic calculation of the maximum quantity of people the described dimensions of the licensed London theatres could have accommodated. Claims that a troupe could have seen peak sales when it was forced to close during a plague are also reconsidered. And the failure of the English dramatic genre to reach its neighbouring Welsh market is questioned as indicative of the rarity of this mode of entertainment in comparison with the popularity claimed for it in puffing self-reviews of plays in the first post-origin decades. The ease with which a false belief in popularity could be generated is consistent with the Ghostwriting Workshop’s self-promotion of their published books. This article pulls together pieces of evidence to explain the literary, fiscal and political misdeeds committed by this Workshop in their quest for profit and fame.

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‘Moving back and forth of the I’

Parasite and Para-site in Beckett’s The Unnamable

Jagannath Basu and Jayjit Sarkar

This article examines how in The Unnamable the unnamed narrator is caught up in a busy traffic of assemblage(s), ‘moving back and forth of the I’. Beckett places the narrator in a no-place (para-site), metaphorically both as the host and the (un)invited guest – the ‘no-mad’ who (dis)owns the system. The narrator acts, and is simultaneously acted upon. Sometimes it is the (un)invited guest (the outsider), and sometimes the host (the insider). The narrator, therefore, is the ‘it’ (the ‘quasi-object’), reaffirming Serres’ idea that every subject who parasites the other is simultaneously parasited by an-other: thus, moving the system. This curious interplay of host-guest double-bind makes the narrator exi(s)t within movement(s)-in-thought, with possibilities of seeing (para-sight) what Beckett terms as ‘something quite different’.

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‘A Scorneful Image of this Present World’

Translating and Mistranslating Erasmus’s Words in Henrician England

Luca Baratta

Many of Erasmus of Rotterdam’s works were translated into English during the reign of Henry VIII. In the process of translation, the original intention of these texts was often subverted, as Erasmus’s reputation was appropriated by his translators and their patrons to serve a variety of political and religious agendas. The present article is devoted to the translating history of one of Erasmus’s works, Sileni Alcibiadis, a proverb that was detached from the huge paremiographic repository known as Adagia and published as an autonomous work in London in the early 1540s. By highlighting corrections, retouchings and omissions, the article aims at pointing out the ways in which the anonymous translator adapted Erasmus’s text to a different cultural and pedagogic context. The final purpose of this work is to show the way in which Erasmus’s political thought ‘migrates’, with partial manipulations, into the turbulent context of mid-sixteenth-century England.

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Yousef Abu Amrieh

The purpose of this article is to examine how Palestinian American novelist Susan Abulhawa appropriates in her novel The Blue between Sky and Water (2015) some of the themes, tropes and motifs that Shakespeare employs in Romeo and Juliet (c. 1596) in order to depict how wars and conflicts turn Palestinian people’s love stories/marriages into tragedies. In particular, love at first sight, the (negative) impact of families on love stories, exile/banishment, use of herbs/traditional medicine, humour and parties that practically turn ominous and fateful are among the themes, tropes and motifs that both Shakespeare and Abulhawa employ to represent love stories/marriages that are embroiled in ongoing violent events. Overall, in its depiction of ‘love and violence’, Abulhawa’s novel appropriates Shakespeare’s greatest love tragedy and shows the conditions under which Palestinians live in Gaza.

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Adapting to Crisis

Migration Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Aydan Greatrick, Jumana Al-Waeli, Hannah Sender, Susanna Corona Maioli, Jin L. Li, and Ellen Goodwin


This article draws on our experiences of carrying out PhD research on migration during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all involved with the University College London Migration Research Unit (MRU), and our PhD research explores the lived experiences of migrants and people affected by migration. This is the first of two articles in this issue of Migration and Society addressing the implications of COVID-19 on migration research from the perspective of postgraduate researchers. In this article, we firstly reflect on how “crises,” including the COVID-19 pandemic, inevitably shape contexts of migration research. We then share how COVID-19 has shaped our relationship to “the field” and our formal research institutions. Finally, we share how we have adapted our methodologies in response to COVID-19 and, considering the complex ethical and practical challenges posed by this context, reflect on what it means to make methodological “adaptations” in times of overlapping crises.