For at least two decades the career of Edward Said has defined what it means to be a public intellectual today. Although attacked as a terrorist and derided as a fraud for his work on behalf of his fellow Palestinians, Said’s importance extends far beyond his political activism. In this volume a distinguished group of scholars assesses nearly every aspect of Said’s work—his contributions to postcolonial theory, his work on racism and ethnicity, his aesthetics and his resistance to the aestheticization of politics, his concepts of figuration, his assessment of the role of the exile in a metropolitan culture, and his work on music and the visual arts. In two separate interviews, Said himself comments on a variety of topics, among them the response of the American Jewish community to his political efforts in the Middle East. Yet even as the Palestinian struggle finds a central place in his work, it is essential—as the contributors demonstrate—to see that this struggle rests on and gives power to his general "critique of colonizers" and is not simply the outgrowth of a local nationalism. Perhaps more than any other person in the United States, Said has changed how the U.S. media and American intellectuals must think about and represent Palestinians, Islam, and the Middle East. Most importantly, this change arises not as a result of political action but out of a potent humanism—a breadth of knowledge and insight that has nourished many fields of inquiry. Originally a special issue of boundary 2, the book includes new articles on minority culture and on orientalism in music, as well as an interview with Said by Jacqueline Rose. Supporting the claim that the last third of the twentieth century can be called the "Age of Said," this collection will enlighten and engage students in virtually any field of humanistic study.
Contributors. Jonathan Arac, Paul A. Bové, Terry Cochran, Barbara Harlow, Kojin Karatani, Rashid I. Khalidi, Sabu Kohsu, Ralph Locke, Mustapha Marrouchi, Jim Merod, W. J. T. Mitchell, Aamir R. Mufti, Jacqueline Rose, Edward W. Said, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Lindsay Waters
If racially offensive epithets are banned on CNN air time and in the pages of USA Today, Jonathan Arac asks, shouldn’t a fair hearing be given to those who protest their use in an eighth-grade classroom? Placing Mark Twain’s comic masterpiece, Huckleberry Finn, in the context of long-standing American debates about race and culture, Jonathan Arac has written a work of scholarship in the service of citizenship. Huckleberry Finn, Arac points out, is America’s most beloved book, assigned in schools more than any other work because it is considered both the “quintessential American novel” and “an important weapon against racism.” But when some parents, students, and teachers have condemned the book’s repeated use of the word “nigger,” their protests have been vehemently and often snidely countered by cultural authorities, whether in the universities or in the New York Times and the Washington Post. The paradoxical result, Arac contends, is to reinforce racist structures in our society and to make a sacred text of an important book that deserves thoughtful reading and criticism. Arac does not want to ban Huckleberry Finn, but to provide a context for fairer, fuller, and better-informed debates.
Arac shows how, as the Cold War began and the Civil Rights movement took hold, the American critics Lionel Trilling, Henry Nash Smith, and Leo Marx transformed the public image of Twain’s novel from a popular “boy’s book” to a central document of American culture. Huck’s feelings of brotherhood with the slave Jim, it was implied, represented all that was right and good in American culture and democracy. Drawing on writings by novelists, literary scholars, journalists, and historians, Arac revisits the era of the novel’s setting in the 1840s, the period in the 1880s when Twain wrote and published the book, and the post–World War II era, to refute many deeply entrenched assumptions about Huckleberry Finn and its place in cultural history, both nationally and globally. Encompassing discussion of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, Ralph Ellison, Archie Bunker, James Baldwin, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, and Mark Fuhrman, Arac’s book is trenchant, lucid, and timely.
Increasingly in the last decade, macropolitics—a consideration of political transformations at the level of the state—has become a focus for cultural inquiry. From the macropolitical perspective afforded by contemporary postcolonial studies, the essays in this collection explore the relationship between politics and culture by examining developments in a wide range of nineteenth-century writing. The dozen essays gathered here span the entire era of colonization and discuss the British Isles, Europe, the United States, India, the Caribbean, and Africa. Addressing the works of Wordsworth, Shelley, Dickens, Melville, Flaubert, Conrad, and Charlotte Brontë, as well as explorers’ reports, Bible translations, popular theater, and folklore, the contributors consider such topics as the political function of aesthetic containment, the redefinitions of nationality under the pressure of imperial ambition, and the coexistence of imperial and revolutionary tendencies. New historical data and new interpretive perspectives alter our conception of established masterpieces and provoke new understandings of the political and cultural context within which these works emerged. This anthology demonstrates that the macropolitical concept of imperialism can provide a new understanding of nineteenth-century cultural production by integrating into a single process the well-established topics of nationalism and exoticism. First published in 1991 (University of Pennsylvania Press), Macropolitics of Nineteenth-Century Literature is now available in paperback. Offering agenda-setting essays in cultural and Victorian studies, it will be of interest to students and scholars of British and American literature, literary theory, and colonial and postcolonial studies.
Contributors. Jonathan Arac, Chris Bongie, Wai-chee Dimock, Bruce Greenfield, Mark Kipperman, James F. Knapp, Loren Kruger, Lisa Lowe, Susan Meyer, Jeff Nunokawa, Harriet Ritvo, Marlon B. Ross, Nancy Vogeley, Sue Zemka
The Yale Critics was first published in 1983. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
A heated debate has been raging in North America in recent years over the form and function of literature. At the center of the fray is a group of critics teaching at Yale University—Harold Bloom, Geoffrey Hartman, Paul de Man, and J. Hillis Miller—whose work can be described in relation to the deconstructive philosophy practiced by French philosopher Jacques Derrida. For over a decade the Yale Critics have aroused controversy; most often they are considered as a group, to be applauded or attacked, rather than as individuals whose ideas merit critical scrutiny. Here a new generation of scholars attempts for the first time a serious, broad assessment of the Yale group. These essays appraise the Yale Critics by exploring their roots, their individual careers, and the issues they introduce.
Wallace Martin's introduction offers a brilliant, compact account of the Yale Critics and of their relation to deconstruction and the deconstruction to two characteristically Anglo-American enterprises; Paul Bove explores the new criticism and Wlad Godzich the reception of Derrida in America. Next come essays giving individual attention to each of the critics: Michael Sprinker on Hartman, Donald Pease on Miller, Stanley Corngold on de Man, and Daniel O'Hara on Bloom. Two essays then illuminate "deconstruction in America" through a return to modern continental philosophy: Donald Marshall on Maurice Blanchot, and Rodolphe Gasche on Martin Heidegger. Finally, Jonathan Arac's afterword brings the volume together and projects a future beyond the Yale Critics.
Throughout, the contributors aim to provide a balanced view of a subject that has most often been treated polemically. While useful as an introduction, The Yale Critics also engages in a serious critical reflection on the uses of the humanities in American today.