Books to Look Out for in April 2020

This month we publish the marvellous Magnificence by Richard Barber, the first-ever comprehensive examination of Tzvetan Todorov’s cultural theory, a collection of pedagogical essays that presents proven strategies for the teaching of adaptation and eighteenth-century texts and many more!

Enjoy a preview of our April publications and we hope these new releases will help your work, aid your research or simply brighten your day in these difficult times.


and Princely Splendour in the Middle Ages

Richard Barber

How do you recognise a medieval king when you see one?
For those who followed the Roman emperors, the special status of royalty was asserted by their display of kingly grandeur, or ‘magnificence’. This was applied to everything: his person, his courtiers, the artists, the garments he wore, the musicians and architects he employed. Above all, it was on show in his public appearances, his feasts and ceremonies. The ‘magnificent’ collections of jewels, manuscripts and holy relics were displayed to a handful of favoured visitors. Those visitors also had to be entertained, and royal feasts developed into an amazing form of performance art.
All this is explored in this wide-ranging survey, covering the whole of western Europe, but centring on France, the wealthiest of the kingdoms, members of whose extended royal family were at different times kings of Poland, Hungary, Naples, Jerusalem, England, and, most spectacularly, dukes of Burgundy.

Tzvetan Todorov

Thinker and Humanist

edited by Henk de Berg & Karine Zbinden

Originally known for his groundbreaking work in literary studies, the Bulgarian-born French scholar Tzvetan Todorov (1939-2017) was one of the world’s foremost cultural theorists. His interventions cover an astounding range of topics, from narratology to ethics, from painting to politics, and from the Enlightenment to current affairs. Written by an international team of experts, this volume – the first-ever comprehensive examination of Todorov as a cultural critic – discusses the crucial elements of his work as well as his place in European thought.

Murder on the Middle Passage

The Trial of Captain Kimber

Nicholas Rogers

This book is a micro-history of the trial of John Kimber, one of the first in which a captain was accused of murdering a slave. It sets the case, central to the abolition debate of the 1790s, in the context of Bristol society, the slave trade and the pro- and anti-slavery movements. The book reconstructs the history of the trials, looking at the differing accounts of what was said in court, the verdicts and their legal implications. It considers contemporary questions of culpability, the use and abuse of evidence, and why Kimber was criminally indicted for murder at a time when slaves were generally regarded as ‘cargo’. Importantly, the book looks at the role of sailors in the abolition debate: both in bringing the horrors of the slave trade to public notice and as straw-men for slavery advocates, who excused the treatment of slaves by comparing it to punishments meted out to sailors and soldiers. The book also explains why the abolition campaign, which seemed to have such momentum in 1792, stalled in the era of the French Revolution. The final chapter addresses the question of whether the slave-trade archive can adequately recover the slave experience.

Adapting the Eighteenth Century

A Handbook of Pedagogies and Practices

edited by Sharon R. Harrow & Kirsten T. Saxton

The eighteenth century was a golden age of adaptation: classical epics were adapted to contemporaneous mock-epics, life writing to novels, novels to plays, and unauthorized sequels abounded. In our own time, cultural products of the long eighteenth century continue to be widely adapted. Eighteenth-century texts appear in consumer products, comics, cult mashups, fan fiction, films, network and streaming shows, novels, theater stagings, and web serials. Taking advantage of this proliferation, Adapting the Eighteenth Century provides innovative, hands-on pedagogies for teaching eighteenth-century studies and adaptation across disciplines and levels.

British Music after Britten

Arnold Whittall

This book considers the impact of the life and work of Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) on British composers who, with the exception of Michael Tippett and Robert Simpson, were all born between the 1930s and the 1980s. Bringing together revised reprints of essays, reviews and analyses first published between 1995 and 2018, it offers a survey of a cross-section of contemporary classical composition in the UK.

A Critical History of German Film, Second Edition

Stephen Brockmann

From early masterpieces such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) and Metropolis (1927) to the post-1945 films of Fassbinder, Herzog, and Wenders, German film constitutes a crucial part of the history of world cinema. It helped to shape Hollywood cinema and had a major impact on other cinemas as well. This popular book, now in a revised and expanded second edition, offers the most readable, comprehensive overview of German film history from the beginnings to the present, written in a clear style suitable for both beginners and experts.

Robert Musil and the Question of Science

Ethics, Aesthetics, and the Problem of the Two Cultures

Tim Mehigan

The work of the Austrian author Robert Musil (1880-1942) is devoted to the problem of two opposed cultures of understanding – those of art and science. Mehigan’s study lends new clarity to the two cultures debate by shining a light on the ethical questions Musil ultimately wished to clarify. It is the shape of a hard-won ethics, Mehigan argues, that provides the key to an effective response to the problem of the two cultures – an ethics, in the end, that can only be put forward as a new kind of art.

The Manuscript and Meaning of Malory’s Morte Darthur

Rubrication, Commemoration, Memorialization

K.S. Whetter
Now in Paperback

The red-ink names that decorate the Winchester manuscript of Malory’s Morte Darthur are striking; yet until now, no-one has asked why the rubrication exists. This book explores the uniqueness and thematic significance of the physical layout of the Morte in its manuscript context, arguing that the layout suggests, and the correlations between manuscript design and narrative theme confirm, that the striking arrangement is likely to have been the product of authorial design rather than something unusual dreamed up by patron, scribe, reader, or printer.

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