Williams, Carolyn

Williams, Carolyn

The Cambridge Companion to English Melodrama

  • Published Date: Cambridge University Press, 2018

Carolyn Williams (Editor)

Cover of the Cambridge Companion to English MelodramaThis newly commissioned series of essays by leading scholars is the first volume to offer both an overview of the field and also current emerging critical views on the history, form, and influence of English melodrama. Authoritative voices provide an introduction to melodrama's early formal features such as tableaux and music, and trace the development of the genre in the nineteenth century through the texts and performances of its various sub-genres, the theatres within which the plays were performed, and the audiences who watched them. The historical contexts of melodrama are considered through essays on topics including contemporary politics, class, gender, race, and empire. And the extensive influences of melodrama are demonstrated through a wide-ranging assessment of its ongoing and sometimes unexpected expressions - in psychoanalysis, in other art forms (the novel, film, television, musical theatre), and in popular culture generally - from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century.

Gilbert and Sullivan: Gender, Genre, Parody

  • Published Date: Columbia University Press, 2010

9780231148054 510a5Long before the satirical comedy of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, the comic operas of W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan were the hottest send-ups of the day's political and cultural obsessions. Gilbert and Sullivan's productions always rose to the level of social commentary, despite being impertinent, absurd, or inane. Some viewers may take them straight, but what looks like sexism or stereotype was actually a clever strategy of critique. Parody was a powerful weapon in the culture wars of late-nineteenth-century England, and with defiantly in-your-face sophistication, Gilbert and Sullivan proved that popular culture can be intellectually as well as politically challenging.


Carolyn Williams underscores Gilbert and Sullivan's creative and acute understanding of cultural formations. Her unique perspective shows how anxiety drives the troubled mind in the Lord Chancellor's "Nightmare Song" in Iolanthe and is vividly realized in the sexual and economic phrasing of the song's patter lyrics. The modern body appears automated and performative in the "Junction Song" in Thespis, anticipating Charlie Chaplin's factory worker in Modern Times. Williams also illuminates the use of magic in The Sorcerer, the parody of nautical melodrama in H.M.S. Pinafore, the ridicule of Victorian aesthetic and idyllic poetry in Patience, the autoethnography of The Mikado, the role of gender in Trial by Jury, and the theme of illegitimacy in The Pirates of Penzance. With her provocative reinterpretation of these artists and their work, Williams recasts our understanding of creativity in the late nineteenth century.

Walter Pater: Transparencies of Desire

  • Published Date: ELT Press, 2002

Carolyn Williams (Co-Editor with Laurel Brake and Lesley Higgins)

altThe "Conclusion" to The Renaissance advises the responsive critic to consider carefully "the various forms of intellectual activity which together make up the culture of an age." Walter Pater: Transparencies of Desire brings together twenty-one varied, contentious, informative essays that confirm Pater's ongoing power to captivate and challenge readers.

The interdisciplinary breadth of the collection demonstrates that the critical culture of Pater studies is always multifaceted—inviting diverse theoretical perspectives yet also demanding that any paradigm of analysis (feminist, new historicist, aesthetic, queer theory, formalist, biographical, Foucauldian) be tested and redefined.

Scholars from five different countries reconsider Pater's career and canon, the reception of his works, the intersections of genre, gender, and aesthetics, and the implications of Pater's writings—in aesthetics, fiction, philosophy, archaeology, art history—for contemporary cultural studies.

Victorian Literature and Culture, 27.2 (1999) "Editors' Topic: Victorian Studies and Cultural Studies"

  • Published Date: 1999

Carolyn Williams

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Transfigured World: Walter Pater's Aesthetic Historicism

  • Published Date: Cornell University Press, 1989

Carolyn Williams

alt Exploring the intricacy and complexity of Walter Pater's prose, Transfigured World challenges traditional approaches to Pater and shows precise ways in which the form of his prose expresses its content. Professor Carolyn Williams asserts that Pater's aestheticism and his historicism should be understood as dialectically interrelated critical strategies, inextricable from each other in practice.