New Academic Journal Features Article about Waugh and Parties

A new academic journal has been announced by H-Net.org (Humanities and Social Sciences Online). This is the Journal of Festive Studies. As explained in H-Net’s announcement releasing the first issue:

Journal of Festive Studies is an open access, peer-reviewed title publishing new research from all fields interested in festivities, including holiday celebrations, family rituals, carnivals, religious feasts, processions and parades, civic commemorations, and more. The first issue offers articles, state of the field essays, and reviews that consider a wide range of approaches to festivity […] The journal is co-edited by Ellen Litwicki (Professor of History, SUNY Fredonia) and Aurélie Godet (Associate Professor of American Studies, Paris Diderot University) and backed by an editorial board of internationally recognized scholars in diverse fields of the humanities and social sciences, including cultural anthropology, sociology, history, management, folklore and popular culture, and Spanish and Portuguese.

The first issue (v.1, #1, Spring 2019) includes an article entitled “Reading the Party: Festivity as Waste in Evelyn Waugh’s 1930s Fiction”. This is by Naomi Milthorpe and Eliza Murphy, both from the University of Tasmania. Here’s the abstract:

This article outlines an approach to understanding festivity through the lens of literary texts. Studies of festivity in early twentieth-century literature center largely on the image of the party. Representations of parties in the literary texts of this period range widely, and the sheer number of parties found in this body of literature highlights the shared interest of writers of the time to explore the implications of festive sociability. Given these parameters a reader might expect the literature of the period to show parties positively: as utopian occasions for transformative jouissance leading to catharsis and (satisfying) narrative closure. Yet many texts of this time represent festivity not as pleasurable renewal but as unpleasurable waste. This is particularly the case in fiction by the English satirist Evelyn Waugh (1903–66). In Waugh’s texts, celebration tends toward destructive (rather than restorative) disorder. This article will read Waugh’s novel Vile Bodies (1930) and short story “Cruise: Letters from a Young Lady of Leisure” (1933), using Roger Caillois’s theory of games, to explore the ways in which parties become sites of wasteful play. Moreover, as this article will demonstrate, literary texts are central documents for understanding the cultural history and subjective experience of parties. They evidence the felt and imagined experiences of social and moral transgression; bodily, mental and affective transformation; and class, race, gender, and sexual boundary-crossing occasioned by festivity. In that sense, the discipline of literary studies can contribute to a robust interdisciplinary approach to understanding festivity.

Here’s a link to a PDF copy of the full article. Dr Milthorpe is editor of the Black Mischief volume in the Complete Works of Waugh Project, author of the book Evelyn Waugh’s Satire and Senior Lecturer at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia.  Eliza Murphy is a PhD candidate at that university.

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