The Rise and Fall of the Femme Fatale in British Literature, 1790–1910 explores the femme fatale's career in nineteenth-century British literature. It traces her evolution—and devolution—formally, historically, and ideologically through a selection of plays, poems, novels, and personal correspondence. Considering well-known fatal women alongside more obscure ones, The Rise and Fall of the Femme Fatale sheds new light on emerging notions of gender, sexuality, and power throughout the long nineteenth century. By placing the fatal woman in a still developing literary and cultural narrative, this study examines how the femme fatale adapts over time, reflecting popular tastes and socio-economic landscapes.
According to Adam Smith, vanity is a vice that contains a promise: a vain person is much more likely than a person with low self-esteem to accomplish great things. Problematic as it may be from a moral perspective, vanity makes a person more likely to succeed in business, politics and other public pursuits. “The great secret of education,” Smith writes, “is to direct vanity to proper objects:” this peculiar vice can serve as a stepping-stone to virtue. How can this transformation be accomplished and what might go wrong along the way? What exactly is vanity and how does it factor into our personal and professional lives, for better and for worse? This book brings Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments into conversation with William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair to offer an analysis of vanity and the objects (proper and otherwise) to which it may be directed. Leading the way through the literary case study presented here is Becky Sharp, the ambitious and cunning protagonist of Thackeray’s novel. Becky is joined by a number of other 19th Century literary heroines – drawn from the novels of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot – whose feminine (and feminist) perspectives complement Smith’s astute observations and complicate his account of vanity. The fictional characters featured in this volume enrich and deepen our understanding of Smith’s work and disclose parts of our own experience in a fresh way, revealing the dark and at times ridiculous aspects of life in Vanity Fair, today as in the past.
In this uniquely interdisciplinary work, Lisa Lowe examines the relationships between Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas in the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth- centuries, exploring the links between colonialism, slavery, imperial trades and Western liberalism. Reading across archives, canons, and continents, Lowe connects the liberal narrative of freedom overcoming slavery to the expansion of Anglo-American empire, observing that abstract promises of freedom often obscure their embeddedness within colonial conditions. Race and social difference, Lowe contends, are enduring remainders of colonial processes through which “the human” is universalized and “freed” by liberal forms, while the peoples who create the conditions of possibility for that freedom are assimilated or forgotten. Analyzing the archive of liberalism alongside the colonial state archives from which it has been separated, Lowe offers new methods for interpreting the past, examining events well documented in archives, and those matters absent, whether actively suppressed or merely deemed insignificant. Lowe invents a mode of reading intimately, which defies accepted national boundaries and disrupts given chronologies, complicating our conceptions of history, politics, economics, and culture, and ultimately, knowledge itself.