Editing a Variety of Academic Approaches
I love the variety I encounter in editing. In February and April I worked on four articles, by the same person (not yet published, so I shouldn’t say more), each with a very different focus and hermeneutical approach. To give some sense of what I had the opportunity to work with, these articles practiced, in part:
- Articulation of the character of Lois Lane, in the late 20th century Superman movie series, as a retelling of the myth of Psyche and Eros. Once pointed out, the direction of influence and the relationship are obvious, but of course the article goes on to do more than establish the parallel. It points to the complications of using Psyche/Lois Lane as a feminist model in the period between second and third wave feminist thought.
- Understanding Calderon de la Barca’s Golden Age representation of Apollo and Python as a political response, whether conscious or not, similar to Titian’s paintings in La Sala de las Furias. In each case, figures of chthonic, mantic, visionary passion once valorized or worshipped are subdued or tamed, made safe by supposedly rational authorities as punishment for the passion each work rethinks as hubris. The play and the paintings, as commissioned works, are seen as furthering the intertwined authority and political ends of Philip IV and Maria of Hungary.
- Placing in what I call philological adjacency, since it is highly unlikely there was any direct influence between the works, Tang Xianzu’s Peony Pavilion and Calderon de la Barca’s Life is a Dream. Both works seem to prefigure, in their own ways, Sleeping Beauty, but the interest of the article transcends establishment of parallels to put forward a theory in which images (flowers, pavilions, princesses, etc.) are seen as means of awakening affects of will, “predispositions to act,” in audiences/readers, not purely as vessels for the experiences of authorial subjectivity. The awakening of the characters at once dramatizes and is the agent of the audiences awakening.
- A discussion of the 17th century dialectic of court and retired life played out in the Latin and vernacular language choices, perhaps entangled with life events, of Luisa Sigea. The article explores the etiologies of the change from work written in Latin about public events while tutor to the Portuguese infanta to intensely personal work in the Spanish vernacular, among others, after marrying and leaving court. The article puts forward various explanations, from frustration with private life to adopting a voice for correspondence with intimate female acquaintances to marketing herself as “poetic” through expressions of private melancholy. All of this comes together in the passages about Sigea’s Colloquium, in which two women discuss the tensions between public and private life, between Socratic challenge and contemplation, and put forward an unsettled honesty as the basis of friendship.