Exploring how the modern novel's complex depictions of parenthood restructure traditional conceptions of the Romantic sublime, Erin K. Johns Speese shows how William Faulkner, E.M. Forster, D.H. Lawrence, and Virginia Woolf use related strategies to rewrite the traditional sublime as an intersubjective experience. Speese shows that this reframing depends on the recognition of social objectification and an ethics of reciprocal empathy between mothers and fathers. She juxtaposes traditional aesthetics and Slavoj Žižek’s concept of the sublime object of ideology with recent theoretical work regarding identity, arguing that these modern novelists construct what she terms a "sublime subject," that is, a person who functions in the space of the traditional sublime object. In revealing the possibility of transcendent emotional connection over reason, these novelists critique the objectification of the other in favor of a sublime experience that reveals the subject-shattering power of empathy.
Table of Contents
2. A Novel Feeling: Aesthetics of Emotion and the Modern Novel
3. Mater Sacer: Addie as Sublime Object in William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying
4. Only Disconnect: Ruth Wilcox, Death, and the Sublime Object in Howards End
5. Transcending the Rainbow: The Possibility of Sublime Intersubjectivity in D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow
6. "What is R?": Mrs. Ramsay as Feminism’s Sublime Object in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse
Epilogue: Žižek’s Mom: Theory, Feminism, and the Mother
Erin K. Johns Speese is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Duquesne University, USA.