Highlights from NAVSA 2014: the work of Dr. Linda M. Shires

I had the opportunity to attend my first conference of the North American Victorian Studies Association this year and I had the pleasure of attending some fantastic panels where a wide array of scholars spoke about their diverse research. I want to tell you about a few of them. More importantly, I want to introduce you to their work so that you have an opportunity to read it in a more accessible form.

The first scholar I want to mention is Linda M. Shires, David and Ruth Gottesman Professor of English and Co-Chair of the Department of English at Stern College, Yeshiva University. Dr. Shires’ paper, “Three Text-Image Relationships in Wessex Poems and Cognitive Styles,” looked at the illustrations that Thomas Hardy prepared and incorporated into the first edition of the Wessex Poems (1898). Shires read the images in relation to the poems and offered new insight into both the images and the poetry. Her point was that the images were part of the creative work that Hardy presented in the book and argued that the book of poems should be studied as a total work of art with poetics and visual art interacting. What I appreciated in the paper was her persistence in arguing an actual thesis. Her thesis spoke to the subjective experience of reading and the many different readings that could occur when different people look at the same book of poems. Her use of neuro-science deepened her argument without taking over the paper.

Throughout her talk, I found myself writing copious notes, trying to remember the many names she used to support her work. As a researcher of book history, I was particularly engaged with her work and the opportunity she opens for bibliographical analysis and close reading to work together.

With that in mind, I want to mention a few of her published works so that you too can have the opportunity to read great scholarship.

Her most recent monograph is Perspectives: Modes of Viewing and Knowing in Nineteenth-Century England (Ohio State University Press, 2009). The book can be purchased directly from the publisher here: https://ohiostatepress.org/index.htm?books/book%20pages/shires%20perspectives.html

She also edited Rewriting the Victorians: Theory, History, and the Politics of Gender (Routledge, 2012). The book can be purchased directly from the publisher here: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415521734/

Dr. Shires Wrote the Introduction and Notes for the Penguin Classics edition of Thomas Hardy’s The Trumpet Major (Penguin 1988). The edition can be purchased directly from Penguin here: http://www.penguinclassics.co.uk/books/the-trumpet-major/9780140435405/

Her articles include “Hardy’s Memorial Art: Image and Text in Wessex Poems.” Victorian Literature and Culture 41.4 (2013); Hardy’s Browning: Refashioning the Lyric” Victorian Poetry 50.4 (2012); and “Browning’s Gifts” SEL Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 48.4 (2008).

Linda M. Shires is an established and knowledgeable scholar of Victorian poetry and if you have not had the chance to read her work, I highly recommend you spend some time reading one of more of the above.

Thanks again Vickie and Eddie readers. There will be more ramblings to come. Keep reading the 19th century!


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