Books

The Aesthetics of Violence: Art, Fiction, Drama and Film

We are always, writes Appelbaum, “being made to know of it – the slap, the abuse, the threat.” And Appelbaum certainly  knows of it – violence, that is. He knows of it, above all, as art knows of it – that is to say, from the inside of it. The very  ‘rhythm of violence,’ as Appelbaum calls  it, can here be felt. — John Schad, Professor of Modern  Literature, University of Lancaster

Terrorism Before the Letter: Mythography and Political Violence in England, Scotland and France, 1559 -1642

Terrorism before the Letter carefully recovers the literary history of a so-called mythography of terrorism that Robert Appelbaum locates in the  bloody religious conflicts of early modern Europe. While boldly considering early modern political  violence as terrorism, Appelbaum argues that literature must be discussed by scholars of  terrorism more broadly … Terrorism before the Letter offers a timely contribution to terrorist  studies. –Alexander D. Campbell, Times Literary Supplement

This is a book to make historians think. His stated goals are to push critical terrorism studies towards a richer engagement with literary analysis, and to provide contemporary debates with a sense of how vested Western culture has been in the imaginary of terrorism. But his book deserves to stimulate historiographical debate, not only about violence, terrorism and writing, but also about the possibility of transnational comparative approaches to the darker passages of the European past — Alastair Bellany, English Historical Review

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Working the Aisles: A Life in Consumption

‘A harrowing performance in lived theory’. — Kimberly Johnson 

‘Covering roughly 50 years, from 1960 till a few years ago, Working the Aisles paints a telling picture of the astounding economic and social changes of the half century. This is a very  entertaining and at the same time melancholy and thoughtful novel-like trip into our ever-growing appetites. — Josip Novakovich

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Dishing It Out: In Search of the Restaurant Experience.

‘A serious examination of the restaurant but also a wildly funny and human romp through restaurant culture high and low . . . Appelbaum’s recounting of visits to restaurants while researching the book and memories of restaurants past are among the most evocative and compelling “reviews” I have read.’ – Sydney Morning Herald.

Dishing It Out is a banquet of reflections, some personal, some scholarly, some theoretical and critical, on the nature of the restaurant from its origins in Revolutionary France to its decadence in the consumerist culture of today. Here you will find discussions of Grimod de la Reynière, the first restaurant critic, Jean-Paul Sartre, for whom Nausea in the restaurant takes centre-stage, urban renewal in Le Havre, Michelin-star restaurants in modern London, and the communist restaurant imagined by William Morris. And here you will find a lot to laugh about, and a lot to be angry about too.

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Aguecheek’s Beef, Belch’s Hiccup, and Other Gastronomic  Interjections: Literature Culture and Food Among the Early  Moderns

Winner of the 2007 Roland H. Bainton Prize, Aguecheek’s Beef is a ground-breaking study of how early modernity put food into words, and words into food. ‘The study is expansive, ambitious, learned, and often both startling and delightful. . . .The really notable thing about Aguecheek”s Beef is its erudite yet genial breadth of vision, which marks it as a major sourcebook for future scholars working in the field of food studies. Appelbaum comes as close as possible to offering readers a unified field theory of early modern alimentary behavior. . . . A study of marvelous richness and diversity.’ —Clio

“I consider this book excellent in almost every regard. Appelbaum’s scholarship is deep, his prose immensely readable, and his thesis compelling from beginning to end. . . . His ability to see in very specific examples . . . the larger lineaments of a culture”s attitudes toward itself makes for a lively intellectual journey.’ Sixteenth Century Journal

“An insightful and thought-provoking book and the arguments Appelbaum makes . . . are already shaping scholarship on this important branch of cultural studies about the ideational meanings of food, and the relationship between literature and food.’ KeyWords

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Envisioning an English Empire: Jamestown and the Making of the North Atlantic World

Edited with noted historian John Wood Sweet, Envisioning an English Empire brings together literary critics, historian, and ethnographers, who reexamine how the first successful outpost of English imperialism in the New World came into being as convergence of discourses, material circumstances, ideological impulses, a will to power, vainglory and plain dumb luck.  Essays include studies of Captain John Smith, of the eating habits of the English and the natives, of slavery, of Powhatan diplomacy, and of the internecine political conflicts fought by different factions of settlers.

‘An engaging study of the remarkably varied ways in which the Atlantic identity of one fragile community coalesced in ideas and experiences forged in England and in societies around and even beyond the northern Atlantic rim.—William and Mary Quarterly

“Certain to become required reading for graduate students, this book and the methods and lines of interpretation employed by its authors reveal new layers of meaning that will shape the scholarly discussion of early Jamestown and the Chesapeake for many years.”—Georgia Historical Review.

Literature and Utopian Politics in Seventeenth-Century England

Robert Appelbaum’s first book is a classic of new historicism, locating an impulse of utopian speculation at once in the political struggles of an era and in the conventions and ambitions of literary production.  This study eschews the conventional genre-based study of utopian fiction in favour of the discourse-based study of utopian desire.  It is at once philosophical and elegiac about the fate of the ‘Not Yet’ in the seventeenth century.

‘Full of good things, rich in insight and interest . . .’ — Utopian Studies

‘With a surprising juxtaposition of texts and a compellingly coherent argument throughout, Appelbaum gives the seventeenth century a new shape. He collects together much material that has not been seen in close relation before, and he tellingly glues it together with his original definition of utopian politics. This is an elegant book. – Studies in English Literature