Revolution, Evolution and Endurance in Anglophone Literature and Culture

by Małgorzata Martynuska (Volume editor) Elżbieta Rokosz-Piejko (Volume editor)
©2017 Edited Collection 274 Pages


The essays collected in this book examine different aspects of change in literature and culture of the Anglophone world. The contributors analyse literary theory as well as individual literary works ranging from John Dryden’s poetry, through the 18th-century English novel, to the 20th-century drama and prose. The contributions also focus on visual arts and film, the socio-political context, and concern various aspects of British and American history, culture and economy.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Part I Revolution and Evolution in Literature and Visual Arts
  • Cognitive Poetics: Revolution or Evolution in the Study of Literature? (Krzysztof Kosecki)
  • A Synergetic Perspective in Literary Studies: Towards Literary Anthropology (Olha Bandrovska)
  • The King is Dead, Long Live The King–Transition and Continuity in John Dryden’s Threnodia Augustalis (Paweł Kaptur)
  • The Evolution of Sailor Hero in the 18th-Century British Novel: A Study in Defoe and Smollett (Marek Błaszak)
  • Grub Street Literary Activity in 18th-Century London. A Flaw or an Asset of Augustan Literature? (Katarzyna Strzyżowska)
  • The Evolution of W. B. Yeats’s Idea of a Drama: from On Baile’s Strand to The Death of Cuchulain (Iryna Senchuk)
  • Harold Pinter’s (Anti-)Revolutionary Approach to Political Drama. Some Reflections on Pinter’s Grim Political Sketches (Paulina Mirowska)
  • The Final Gasps of the Catholic Big House in Brian Friel’s Aristocrats (Monika Kozub)
  • Modern Appropriations of Shakespeare: Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres (1991) (Anna Pietrzykowska-Motyka)
  • Women, Men and the Hope of Pregnancy/Motherhood in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam (Sławomir Kuźnicki)
  • The Evolution of the Hero in C. S. Lewis’s The Space Trilogy (Viktoriia Yaremchuk)
  • Indian Endurance in Andrew Suknaski’s Poems and Allen Sapp’s Painting (Oksana Weretiuk)
  • Wars and (R)Evolutions: The Long Happy Life of Hannah Höch (1889–1978) (Mirosława Buchholtz)
  • From a Suffering Victim to the ‘Final Girl’: Evolution of the Concept of the Gaze in Slasher Films: Psycho and The Silence of the Lambs (Agnieszka Kallaus)
  • Part II Evolution, Revolution and Endurance in the Socio-Political Context
  • Protecting the Wilderness: How a Revolutionary Idea Evolved and Devolved, While the Wild World was Left to Endure (Joanna Durczak)
  • U-Turn if You Want to – on the Revolutionarily Evolutionary Nature of Britain (Ian Upchurch)
  • The British Guarantee to Poland of 1939 as a Revolution in Anglo-Polish Relations (Donald Trinder)
  • “Insider” Accounts of Guantanamo: the Good, the Bad, and the Absurd (David Jervis)
  • Black Muslim Communication Strategy in the 1950s and 1960s from a Co-Cultural Perspective (Péter Gaál-Szabó)
  • Transculturality Exemplified by the Evolution of Salsa Dance in the USA (Małgorzata Martynuska)
  • Values in American Economy–The Changing Face of the Core (Damian Pyrkosz)
  • List of Contributors

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The present volume titled Revolution, Evolution and Endurance in Anglophone Literature and Culture is the outcome of both domestic and international academic cooperation of the Institute of English Studies at the University of Rzeszów, Poland. The volume was planned to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Institute’s founding and the concepts of revolution, evolution and endurance were selected for the collection of essays as the common theme, which opens a discussion about a variety of revolutionary/evolutionary aspects observable in the theoretical approaches in literary studies, in individual literary works, in visual arts and film, and in the field of culture studies.

Élisée Reclus, a 19th-century French anarchist, in his 1891 work titled Evolution and Revolution, while elaborating upon the two terms and the phenomena they signify, provides the following definitions of the two:

The word Evolution, synonymous with gradual and continuous development in morals and ideas, is brought forward in certain circles as though it were the antithesis of that fearful word, Revolution, which implies changes more or less sudden in their action, and entailing some sort of catastrophe. And yet is it possible that a transformation can take place in ideas without bringing about some abrupt displacements in the equilibrium of life? Must not revolution necessarily follow evolution, as action follows the desire to act? They are fundamentally one and the same thing, differing only according to the time of their appearance.

The articles included in this volume, written more than a century–so full of evolutions and revolutions–later, provide a wide range of interpretations of the consequences and the aftermath of both slow and abrupt change, with endurance being the third notion to be referred to.

The opening chapter of Part I, authored by Krzysztof Kosecki and titled “Cognitive Poetics: Revolution or Evolution in the Study of Literature?,” argues that some tenets and techniques of analysis employed by Cognitive Poetics draw on methodologies advanced by structuralists in the second half of the 20th century. The author refers to Lakoff and Turner’s (1989) analyses of metaphor-metonymy interaction in literary works, suggesting that those can be regarded as an extension and a refinement of Jakobson’s (1956) concept of metaphor-metonymy continuum in conventional and artistic language, while Hogan’s (2003) cross-cultural description of structures of stories, based on the concept of ‘frame’ (Fillmore 1985), resembles Propp’s (1968) account of the plots of Russian fables. The author concludes that the overlapping of structuralist and cognitive poetic ideas reflects ← 9 | 10 → Thomas Kuhn’s (1962, 168) view that each new paradigm in science must preserve the bulk of ideas and problem-solving activity that its predecessor had created. The metaphor-metonymy continuum, the structures of the narratives, and artistic novelty are the three points that hold both literary paradigms together, even though each of them approaches these ideas in different ways.

Olha Bandrovska in “A Synergetic Perspective in Literary Studies: Towards Literary Anthropology” refers to an explosion of interest in interdisciplinary approaches to literary studies observable in the last decades. In this context, the synergetic approach she proposes is explained as a meta-methodology, because its principles open the way to the study of diverse phenomena of art, culture and civilization as complex systems, which are characterized by self-organization processes and states of instability. Such phenomena include fiction, with literary modernism being a part of it. The cooperation between synergetics and literary anthropology is regarded as an example of a productive interdisciplinary approach in studying literary phenomena. Bandrovska argues that the synergetic analysis makes it possible to interpret man, his biological and social nature and unique personality by examining him in terms of dynamic integrity, self-organization, self-identity, creativity, instability, openness and his relationship with the outside world. In her opinion, in such a perspective British literary modernism vividly illustrates a new systematic understanding of the human condition, thus affirming the anthropological turn in the humanities of the 20th century and artistic expressivity, which continues to be a source of research within present-day scholarship and of new ideas in contemporary literature.

Paweł Kaptur’s “‘The King is Dead, Long Live the King’–Transition and Continuity in John Dryden’s Threnodia Augustalis” opens the group of chapters examining a selection of literary works. The author focuses on Threnodia Augustalis which was Dryden’s personal farewell to King Charles II Stuart and a welcoming oratory to the late King’s brother James. The text serves not only to express Dryden’s mourning after the loss of his lord but it is also a chance for the poet to underline the transition and continuity of hereditary monarchy. Kaptur discusses those elements and passages of Dryden’s threnody in which the poet highlights the transition between the two reigns and the continuity of such values as peace, justice and order which James was supposed to guarantee and which Dryden advocated so zealously. In the author’s view Threnodia Augustalis was supposed to convince the people that the smooth transition from Protestant, popular Charles to his Catholic, unpopular brother, was the best solution to provide England with powerful authority based on hereditary succession rather than an elective system, which British people had not known before. ← 10 | 11 →

The next chapter, authored by Marek Błaszak and titled “The Evolution of Sailor Hero in the 18th-century British Novel: A Study in Defoe and Smollett,” examines the way in which the two British novelists used their sailor characters and attempts to determine their contribution to the creation and evolution of the sailor hero in the 18th-century British novel. Błaszak argues that in the case of the mercantile-minded Daniel Defoe the seafarer is typically a merchant and entrepreneur bent on making a fat profit in the spirit of Whig liberalism, fulfilling expectations of contemporary middle-class readers, while Tobias Smollett, who had served in the Royal Navy in the capacity of a surgeon’s assistant for about a year and was a follower of the coarser variety of the picaresque novel typified by Le Sage, distorted a couple of his seafaring characters so that they appear to be grotesque objects and caricatures rather than life-like sailors.

Katarzyna Strzyżowska in the chapter titled “Grub Street Literary Activity in 18th century London. A Flaw or an Asset of Augustan Literature?” focuses on Grub Street literary productions which symbolically came to represent the growing opposition to polite and ordered literature of early 18th-century England. The author ponders upon the significance of the Grub Street writing and tries to answer the question of whether its literary activity was of no value, as many tended to claim, or perhaps its prolific output, often introducing innovative techniques, did not degrade the Augustan literature, but rather contributed to it.

Iryna Senchuk’s “The Evolution of W. B. Yeats’s Idea of a Drama: From On Baile’s Strand to The Death of Cuchulain” is the first of the three chapters devoted to the discussion of revolution/evolution in drama. Senchuk analyses three Cuchulain plays, exploring the evolution of W. B. Yeats’s dramatic style from On Baile’s Strand to The Death of Cuchulain, with At the Hawk’s Well as a middle point. The study of these plays in chronological sequence shows Yeats searching for possible ways to bring his audience into deeper awareness of the inner drama of a personality, which is the focus of the author’s attention. Considering the changes in Yeats’s dramatic technique, Senchuk’s study deals with Yeats’s idea of drama and aims at asserting that Yeats developed drama theory and practice alike.

“Harold Pinter’s (Anti-)Revolutionary Approach to Political Drama. Some Reflections on Pinter’s Grim Political Sketches” by Paulina Mirowska addresses the expression of Pinter’s political and language concerns embodied in his overtly political work for the stage of the 1980s, and later, especially, in his provocative dramatic sketches that combine, with success, the narrow scope of presentation with the grim realities of worldwide political violence. The analysis includes Pinter’s late dramatic sketches, The New World Order (1991), Party Time (1991) and the more recent Press Conference (2002), in particular, which combine a narrow scope ← 11 | 12 → of presentation with the grim realities of worldwide political violence. The dramatic pieces discussed are positioned in the context of Pinter’s social activism and his writing of the 1980s and 1990s concerned with the suppression of dissent and the moral bankruptcy of ruling elites. Mirowska addresses the playwright’s enduring attempts at impressing upon his audiences, against all odds, the need for countering the entrenched habit of moral apathy, examining critically the prevailing modes of self-justification and recognising individual responsibility for what is done in our name.

Monika Kozub’s “The Final Gasps of the Catholic Big House in Brian Friel’s Aristocrats” deals with the work of Brian Friel (1929-), who is regarded as the best Irish playwright living today. Aristocrats (1979), the play analysed in the chapter, is a revealing family drama which occurs at a difficult time in Ireland: the civil rights upheavals of the mid-1970s. Kozub focuses on the way in which Aristocrats depicts the gradual demise of the Catholic Big House in Ireland using the example of the once-prosperous O’Donnell family, and argues that the play addresses the issue of class more fully than any other of Friel’s works.

Anna Pietrzykowska-Motyka in “Modern Appropriations of Shakespeare: Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres (1991)” discusses the modern appropriation of William Shakespeare’s King Lear in Jane Smiley’s novel, A Thousand Acres (1991). One of the most recent of the critical responses to the novel shows Jane Smiley’s reworking of King Lear as (re)constructing an ‘alternate history’: “one that privileges the private, the domestic, the feminocentric, over the public, the national, the phallocentric” (Millard 2007, 67). While fully conceding that to be true, the author of the chapter strives to prove how the appropriation retains the grandeur and magnificence of the original piece, but at the same time it also marginalizes, sidelines, or downgrades the source text. She concludes that the readers of Smiley’s novel can approach Shakespeare’s Lear story from a different angle: while bearing in mind the grandeur of the original, they can see that the potential of the source text lies not only in retaining its original power and size, but also in the way the source text enters into a contemporary context by negotiating with different geographical space, time continuum, or more ordinary characters. In Smiley’s novel Shakespeare’s original story becomes modified in various dimensions, giving Lear’s story a new flavour and colouring, a mock-heroic one included.

In “Women, Men and the Hope of Pregnancy/Motherhood in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddamSławomir Kuźnicki discusses the Canadian writer’s novel, which concludes her 21st-century speculative trilogy and expands the concept of a peaceful existence of men and women, as well as “old” people and the perfect human clones in the post-apocalyptic world. Focusing on Nina Auerbach’s idea ← 12 | 13 → of “women’s communities,” already signalled in the novel The Year of the Flood (2010), the essay investigates how the society of female and male survivors is supplemented in MaddAddam with the elements of motherhood and parenthood. It appears that having children is crucial to female solidarity in this novel. Furthermore, motherhood overcomes many an obstacle: from problematic relationships with men, through unambiguous female bonds, to trans-generic issues which allow for the coexistence of “old” human beings with the “new” clones. Consequently, in the post-apocalyptic reality, motherhood unites not only women with men, but also the representatives of “old” humanity with the genetically designed Crakers. As the author suggests, the trans-generic relations and their offspring give hope for the future. The potential present in both “old” and “new” human beings allows for an almost utopian possibility of a society that is not driven by sexual, generic and racial discrimination.

Viktoriia Yaremchuk’s “The Evolution of the Hero in C. S. Lewis’s The Space Trilogy” focuses on C. S. Lewis’s mythopoeic worldview embodied, long before The Chronicles of Narnia, in the creation of a specific fictional fantasy world of The Space Trilogy (1938–1945). In these polygeneric novels Lewis drew heavily on medieval texts of Christian literature and philosophy, criticized modern culture for its neglect of traditional values, articulated religious interests and brought forward an intellectually examined religious account of the world. The texts created throughout the period of World War II marked the evolution of the author’s oeuvre which manifested itself in the shaping of the synthetic and complex structure of a mythopoeic world model with a special type of hero, transforming in the course of the plot. For Lewis, the concept of evolution of the hero embraced every aspect of existence, from metaphysical and psychological notions of “becoming” to his role in social, cultural, cosmic and universal “change” and “transformation.” This has predetermined the Trilogy’s structure and mythopoeic background. The author discusses the way in which the protagonist of The Space Trilogy evolves and concludes that the religious symbolism of the hero’s evolution is combined with Celtic and Greek mythological sources in the creation of a specifically national English quest hero, which can be viewed as typical and exemplary for further generations of fantasy authors.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2016 (December)
English literature Culture studies Literary theory British drama Ecocriticism British history
Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 274 pp., 4 b/w ill., 4 tables, 3 fig.

Biographical notes

Małgorzata Martynuska (Volume editor) Elżbieta Rokosz-Piejko (Volume editor)

Małgorzata Martynuska is Assistant Professor at the Institute of English Studies, University of Rzeszów, Poland. Her current research focuses on cultural hybridity of Hispanics living in the US. Elżbieta Rokosz-Piejko is Assistant Professor at the Institute of English Studies, University of Rzeszów, Poland. She specialises in adaptation studies.


Title: Revolution, Evolution and Endurance in Anglophone Literature and Culture
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