In this deft analysis, Vernon Shetley shows how writers and readers of poetry, operating under very different conventions and expectations, have drifted apart, stranding the once-vital poetic enterprise on the distant margins of contemporary culture. Along with a clear understanding of where American poetry stands and how it got there, After the Death of Poetry offers a compelling set of prescriptions for its future, prescriptions that might enable the art to regain its lost stature in our intellectual life. In exemplary case studies, Shetley identifies the very different ways in which three postwar poets—Elizabeth Bishop, James Merrill, and John Ashbery—try to restore some of the challenge and risk that characterized modernist poetry's relation to its first readers. Sure to be controversial, this cogent analysis offers poets and readers a clear sense of direction and purpose, and so, the hope of reaching each other again.
"This book can take its place on the shelf beside Henry Nash Smith's Virgin Land and Leo Marx's The Machine in the Garden."—Choice
"[Gilmore] demonstrates the profound, sustained, engagement with society embodied in the works of Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau and Melville. In effect, he relocates the American Renaissance where it properly belongs, at the centre of a broad social, economic, and ideological movement from the Jacksonian era to the Civil War. Basically, Gilmore's argument concerns the writers' participation in what Thoreau called 'the curse of trade.' He details their mixed resistance to and complicity in the burgeoning literary marketplace and, by extension, the entire ' economic revolution' which between 1830 and 1860 'transformed the United States into a market society'. . . .
"The result is a model of literary-historical revisionism. Gilmore's opening chapters on Emerson and Thoreau show that 'transcendental' thought and language can come fully alive when understood within the material processes and ideological constraints of their time. . . . The remaining five chapters, on Hawthorne and Melville, contain some of the most penetrating recent commentaries on the aesthetic strategies of American Romantic fiction, presented within and through some of the most astute, thoughtful considerations I know of commodification and the 'democratic public' in mid-nineteenth-century America. . . . Practically and methodologically, American Romanticism and the Marketplace has a significant place in the movement towards a new American literary history. It places Gilmore at the forefront of a new generation of critics who are not just reinterpreting familiar texts or discovering new texts to interpret, but reshaping our ways of thinking about literature and culture."—Sacvan Bercovitch, Times Literary Supplement
"Gilmore writes with energy, clarity, and wit. The reader is enriched by this book." William H. Shurr, American Literature
The audience—the community of readers who will use the texts a writer produces—must be an important influence on the writer for his or her work to be effective.
Robert Brooke and John Hendricks examine the difficult task of teaching "writing for an audience" in a classroom where students know that the teacher, not the addressed audience, assigns the grade.
The authors describe in detail a particular writing class, taught by Brooke and observed by Hendricks, that attempted to teach writing for an audience. By combining the experiences from their study with student reactions to the class, they draw some conclusions about the dynamics of teaching writing and about learning in general.
The condition of our public discussions about literary and cultural works has much to say about the condition of our democracy and the author argues for more public discourse--in classrooms, newspapers, magazines, etc. to reclaim a public voice on national artistic matters.
In this revealing study of the links among literature, rhetoric, and democracy, Rosa A. Eberly explores the public debate generated by amateur and professional readers about four controversial literary works: two that were censored in the United States and two that created conflict because they were not censored.
In Citizen Critics Eberly compares the outrage sparked by the publication of James Joyce's Ulysses and Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer with the relative quiescence that greeted the much more violent and sexually explicit content of Bret Easton Ellis's American Psychoand Andrea Dworkin's Mercy. Through a close reading of letters to the editor, reviews, media coverage, and court cases, Eberly shows how literary critics and legal experts defused censorship debates by shifting the focus from content to aesthetics and from social values to publicity. By asserting their authority to pass judgments--thus denying the authority of citizen critics--these professionals effectively removed the discussion from literary public spheres.
A passionate advocate for treating reading as a public and rhetorical enterprise rather than solely as a private one, Eberly suggests the potential impact a work of literature may have on the social polity if it is brought into public forums for debate rather than removed to the exclusive rooms of literary criticism. Eberly urges educators to use their classrooms as protopublic spaces in which students can learn to make the transition from private reader to public citizen.
Of all American poets, Whitman remains the single most challenging figure. Protean and elusive, Whitman is everywhere and nowhere at once. An unavoidable presence, he still arouses anger, envy, love, and debate one hundred years after his death. To honor his anniversary, Robert Martin has invited the most invigorating and innovative of Whitman’s new readers and critics to respond not to Whitman’s death but to his continuing life as it has marked their own lives and writings. The eighteen essays gathered in this volume testify to the powerful multiple responses that Whitman continues to evoke. They recreate another Whitman perhaps more real than the one we thought we knew.
The “continuing presence” that Whitman’s readers have created is as diverse as those readers themselves. But he is, as he promised, everywhere: “Missing me one place search another / I stop somewhere waiting for you.” The central figure of American poetic history, he has been a formative presence in the work of black writers in America and Europe, in the development of women’s poetry that has learned from him to celebrate the body, and of course in the emergence of the gay literary tradition, all of which can be linked to movements of political change. Whitman helped make it possible to be a black poet, a female poet, or a gay poet, partly because he saw himself not as a model but as an enabler. He still continues to challenge our assessment of our sexuality and the ways we organize it. Martin’s collection is particularly strong on the investigation of Whitman’s homosexuality, his homotexuality, and his influence on gay writers and will clearly become the most aggregative gathering of essays ever published on this increasingly prominent aspect of Whitman and his work.
The Continuing Presence of Walt Whitman seeks to be an intervention and not merely a reflection; it is intended to illuminate a response that continues to take place, a constant invention and reinvention, a writing and rewriting that echo Whitman’s own text of Leaves of Grass. Whitman remains an originating force. Once read, he will not go away.
Using a variety of historical sources, Richard H. Brodhead reconstructs the institutionalized literary worlds that coexisted in nineteenth-century America: the middle-class domestic culture of letters, the culture of mass-produced cheap reading, the militantly hierarchical high culture of post-emancipation black education. He describes how these socially structured worlds of writing shaped the terms of literary practice for writers like Stowe, Hawthorne, Fanny Fern, Louisa May Alcott, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Charles Chesnutt.
A dynamic account of the history, practice, and theory of poetry as performance.
Distant Reading considers poetry as performance, offers new insights into its popularity, and proposes a new history of its origins. It also explores related issues concerning the reception of poetry, the impact of the computer on how we read poetry, the persistence of the letter "I" in poems by avant-garde poets, the strangeness of the line-break as a demand on the reader's attention, and the idea of the reader as consumer. These themes are connected by a historically contextualized and theoretically sophisticated discussion of contemporary American and British poets continuing to work in the modernist tradition.
The introductory essay establishes a new methodology that transforms close reading into what Middleton calls "distant reading," interpretive reading that acknowledges the distances that texts travel from their point of composition to readers in other geographical and historical locations. It indicates that poetic innovation is often driven by a desire on the part of the poet to make this distance do cultural work in the meanings that the poem generates.
Ultimately, Distant Reading treats poetry as a cultural practice that is always situated within specific sites of performance—recited on stage, displayed in magazines, laid out on a page, scrolled on the computer screen—rather than as a transcendent cloud of meaning tethered only to its words.
At the start of the eighteenth century, talk of literary "characters" referred as much to letters and typefaces as it did to persons in books. Yet by the nineteenth century, characters had become the equals of their readers, friends with whom readers might spend time and empathize.
Although the story of this shift is usually told in terms of the "rise of the individual," Deidre Shauna Lynch proposes an ingenious alternative interpretation. Elaborating a "pragmatics of character," Lynch shows how readers used transactions with characters to accommodate themselves to newly commercialized social relations. Searching for the inner meanings of characters allowed readers both to plumb their own inwardness and to distinguish themselves from others. In a culture of mass consumption, argues Lynch, possessing a belief in the inexpressible interior life of a character rendered one's property truly private.
Ranging from Defoe and Smollett to Burney and Austen, Lynch's account will interest students of the novel, literary historians, and anyone concerned with the inner workings of consumer culture and the history of emotions.
Of all developments surrounding hypermedia, none has been as hotly or frequently debated as the conjunction of fiction and digital technology. J. Yellowlees Douglas considers the implications of this union. She looks at the new light that interactive narratives may shed on theories of reading and interpretation and the possibilities for hypertext novels, World Wide Web-based short stories, and cinematic, interactive narratives on CD-ROM. She confronts questions that are at the center of the current debate: Does an interactive story demand too much from readers? Does the concept of readerly choice destroy the integrity of an author's vision? Does interactivity turn reading fiction from "play" into "work"--too much work? Will hypertext fiction overtake the novel as a form of art or entertainment? And what might future interactive books look like?
The book examines criticism on interactive fiction from both proponents and skeptics and examines similarities and differences between print and hypertext fiction. It looks closely at critically acclaimed interactive works, including Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden and Michael Joyce's Afternoon: A Story that illuminate how these hypertext narratives "work." While she sees this as a still-evolving technology and medium, the author identifies possible developments for the future of storytelling from outstanding examples of Web-based fiction and CD-ROM narratives, possibilities that will enable narratives to both portray the world with greater realism an to transcend the boundaries of novels and films, character and plot alike.
Written to be accessible to a wide range of readers, this lively and accessibly-written volume will appeal to those interested in technology and cyberculture, as well as to readers familiar with literary criticism and modern fiction.
J. Yellowlees Douglas is the Director of the William and Grace Dial Center for Written and Oral Communication, University of Florida. She is the author of numerous articles and essays on the subject of hypertext and interactive literature.
Experimental texts empower the reader by encouraging self-governing approaches to reading and by placing the reader on equal footing with the author. Everybody's Autonomy is about reading and identity.
Contemporary avant garde writing has often been overlooked by those who study literature and identity. Such writing has been perceived as unrelated, as disrespectful of subjectivity. But Everybody's Autonomy instead locates within avant garde literature models of identity that are communal, connective, and racially concerned. Everybody's Autonomy, as it tackles literary criticism's central question of what sort of selves do works create, looks at works that encourage connection, works that present and engage with large, public worlds that are in turn shared with readers. With this intent, it aligns the iconoclastic work of Gertrude Stein with foreign, immigrant Englishes and their accompanying subjectivities. It examines the critique of white individualism and privilege in the work of language writers Lyn Hejinian and Bruce Andrews. It looks at how Harryette Mullen mixes language writing's open text with the distinctivesness of African-American culture to propose a communal, yet still racially conscious identity. And it examines Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's use of broken English and French to unsettle readers' fluencies and assimilating comprehensions, to decolonize reading. Such works, the book argues, well represent and expand changing notions of the public, of everybody.
Chicana/o literature frequently depicts characters who exist in a vulnerable liminal space, living on the border between Mexican and American identities, and sometimes pushed to the edge by authorities who seek to restrict their freedom. As this groundbreaking new study reveals, the books themselves have occupied similarly precarious positions, as Chicana/o literature has struggled for economic viability and visibility on the margins of the American publishing industry, while Chicana/o writers have grappled with editorial practices that compromise their creative autonomy.
From the Edge reveals the tangled textual histories behind some of the most cherished works in the Chicana/o literary canon, tracing the negotiations between authors, editors, and publishers that determined how these books appeared in print. Allison Fagan demonstrates how the texts surrounding the authors’ words—from editorial prefaces to Spanish-language glossaries, from cover illustrations to reviewers’ blurbs—have crucially shaped the reception of Chicana/o literature. To gain an even richer perspective on the politics of print, she ultimately explores one more border space, studying the marks and remarks that readers have left in the margins of these books.
From the Edge vividly demonstrates that to comprehend fully the roles that ethnicity, language, class, and gender play within Chicana/o literature, we must understand the material conditions that governed the production, publication, and reception of these works. By teaching us how to read the borders of the text, it demonstrates how we might perceive and preserve the faint traces of those on the margins.
The author considers James’s work from The Bostonians to The Awkward Age – from 1883 to 1889 – a period in which James was resident in London and searching for material to replace the “international theme.” Jacobson considers this context in relation to the emergence of a mass market and sees James’s major fiction of this period as an attempt to exploit the conventions of popular fiction in an analysis of his society’s assumptions. James’s work at this time must also be viewed as an artist’s effort to secure popular attention and acceptance.
Such an approach allows Jacobson to treat James’s “French period” and his “experimental period” as a unit and to counter the myth that James was an ivory tower artist.
For a long time now, readers and scholars have strained against the limits of traditional literary criticism, whose precepts—above all, "objectivity"—seem to have so little to do with the highly personal and deeply felt experience of literature. The Intimate Critique marks a movement away from this tradition. With their rich spectrum of personal and passionate voices, these essays challenge and ultimately breach the boundaries between criticism and narrative, experience and expression, literature and life. Grounded in feminism and connected to the race, class, and gender paradigms in cultural studies, the twenty-six contributors to this volume—including Jane Tompkins, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Shirley Nelson Garner, and Shirley Goek-Lin Lim—respond in new, refreshing ways to literary subjects ranging from Homer to Freud, Middlemarch to The Woman Warrior, Shiva Naipaul to Frederick Douglass. Revealing the beliefs and formative life experiences that inform their essays, these writers characteristically recount the process by which their opinions took shape--a process as conducive to self-discovery as it is to critical insight. The result—which has been referred to as "personal writing," "experimental critical writing," or "intellectual autobiography"—maps a dramatic change in the direction of literary criticism.
Contributors. Julia Balen, Dana Beckelman, Ellen Brown, Sandra M. Brown, Rosanne Kanhai-Brunton, Suzanne Bunkers, Peter Carlton, Brenda Daly, Victoria Ekanger, Diane P. Freedman, Olivia Frey, Shirley Nelson Garner, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Melody Graulich, Gail Griffin, Dolan Hubbard, Kendall, Susan Koppelman, Shirley Geok-Lin Lim, Linda Robertson, Carol Taylor, Jane Tompkins, Cheryl Torsney, Trace Yamamoto, Frances Murphy Zauhar
Letters to J. D. Salinger
Edited by Chris Kubica and Will Hochman University of Wisconsin Press, 2014 Library of Congress PS3537.A426Z48 2002 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Despite J. D. Salinger’s many silences—from the publication of The Catcher in the Rye to his absence from the public eye after 1965 to his death in 2010—the unforgettable characters of his novel and short stories continue to speak to generations of readers and writers. Letters to J. D. Salinger includes more than 150 personal letters addressed to Salinger from well-known writers, editors, critics, journalists, and other luminaries, as well as from students, teachers, and readers around the world, some of whom had just discovered Salinger for the first time. Their voices testify to the lasting impression Salinger’s ideas and emotions have made on so many diverse lives.
Ellen D. Finkelpearl's Metamorphosis of Language in Apuleius studies the use of literary allusion by the Roman author Apuleius, in his second century C.E. novel the Metamorphoses, popularly known as The Golden Ass. Apuleius' work is enticing yet frustrating because of its enigmatic mixture of the comic and serious; a young man is transformed into a donkey, but eventually finds salvation with the goddess Isis. Finkelpearl's book represents the first attempt to place Apuleius' allusive practices within a consideration of the development of the ancient novel.
When Apuleius wrote his Metamorphoses, the novel--indeed the very concept of fiction in prose--was new. This study argues that Apuleius' repeated allusions to earlier Latin authors such as Vergil, Ovid, and Seneca represent an exploration on his part of the relationship between the novel and more established genres of the era. Apuleius' struggle with this tradition, Finkelpearl maintains, parallels the protagonist's move from an acceptance of the dominance of traditional forms to a sense of arrival and self- discovery.
An introductory chapter includes general discussion of the theory and practice of allusion. Finkelpearl then revisits the issues of parody in Apuleius. She also includes discussion of Apuleius' use of Vergil's Sinon, the Charite episode in relation to Apuleius' African origins, and the stepmother episode. Finally a new reading of Isis is offered, which emphasizes her associations with writing and matches the multiformity of the goddess with the novel's many voices.
This book will be of interest to scholars of literature and the origins of the novel, multiculturalism, and classical literature.
Ellen D. Finkelpearl is Associate Professor of Classics at Scripps College, Claremont, California.
In this sophisticated application of modern Marxist thought, N. N. Feltes demonstrates the determining influence of nineteenth-century publishing practices on the Victorian novel. His dialectical analysis leads to a comprehensive explanation of the development of capitalist novel production into the twentieth century.
Feltes focuses on five English novels: Dickens's Pickwick Papers, Thackeray's Henry Esmond, Eliot's Middlemarch, Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and Forster's Howards End. Published at approximately twenty year intervals between 1836 and 1920, they each represent a different first-publication format: part-issue, three-volume, bimonthly, magazine-serial, and single-volume. Drawing on publishing, economic, and literary history, Feltes offers a broad, synthetic explanation of the relationship between the production and format of each novel, and the way in which these determine, in the last instance, the ideology of the text.
Modes of Production in Victorian Novels provides a Marxist structuralist analysis of historical events and practices described elsewhere only empirically, and traces their relationship to literary texts which have been analyzed only idealistically, thus setting these familiar works firmly and perhaps permanently into a framework of historic materialism.
Michael Joyce's new collection continues to examine the connections between the poles of art and instruction, writing and teaching in the form of what Joyce has called theoretical narratives, pieces that are both narratives of theory and texts in which theory often takes the form of narrative. His concerns include hypertext and interactive fiction, the geography of cyberspace, and interactive film, and Joyce here searches out the emergence of network culture in spaces ranging from the shifting nature of the library to MOOs and other virtual spaces to life along a river.
While in this collection Joyce continues to be one of our most lyrical, wide-ranging, and informed cultural critics and theorists of new media, his essays exhibit an evolving distrust of unconsidered claims for newness in the midst of what Joyce calls "the blizzard of the next," as well as a recurrent insistence upon grounding our experience of the emergence of network culture in the body.
Michael Joyce is Associate Professor of English, Vassar College. He is author of a number of hypertext fictions on the web and on disk, most notably Afternoon: A Story.
His previous books are Of Two Minds: Hypertext Pedagogy and Poetics and Moral Tale and Meditations: Technological Parables and Refractions.
Paper Knowledge is a remarkable book about the mundane: the library card, the promissory note, the movie ticket, the PDF (Portable Document Format). It is a media history of the document. Drawing examples from the 1870s, the 1930s, the 1960s, and today, Lisa Gitelman thinks across the media that the document form has come to inhabit over the last 150 years, including letterpress printing, typing and carbon paper, mimeograph, microfilm, offset printing, photocopying, and scanning. Whether examining late nineteenth century commercial, or "job" printing, or the Xerox machine and the role of reproduction in our understanding of the document, Gitelman reveals a keen eye for vernacular uses of technology. She tells nuanced, anecdote-filled stories of the waning of old technologies and the emergence of new. Along the way, she discusses documentary matters such as the relation between twentieth-century technological innovation and the management of paper, and the interdependence of computer programming and documentation. Paper Knowledge is destined to set a new agenda for media studies.
Between the 1890s and the 1920s, mass consumer culture and modernism grew up together, by most accounts as mutual antagonists. This provocative work of cultural history tells a different story. By delving deeply into the publishing and promotional practices of the modernists in Britain and America, however, Mark Morrisson reveals that their engagements with the commercial mass market were in fact extensive and diverse.
The phenomenal successes of new advertising agencies and mass market publishers did elicit what Morrisson calls a "crisis of publicity" for some modernists and for many concerned citizens in both countries. But, as Morrisson demonstrates, the vast influence of these industries on consumers also had a profound and largely overlooked effect upon many modernist authors, artists, and others. By exploring the publicity and audience reception of several of the most important modernist magazines of the period, The Public Face of Modernism shows how modernists, far from lamenting the destruction of meaningful art and public culture by the new mass market, actually displayed optimism about the power of mass-market technologies and strategies to transform and rejuvenate contemporary culture—and, above all, to restore a public function to art.
This reconstruction of the "public face of modernism" offers surprising new perceptions about the class, gender, racial, and even generational tensions within the public culture of the early part of the century, and provides a rare insight into the actual audiences for modernist magazines of the period. Moreover, in new readings of works by James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Wyndham Lewis, Ford Madox Ford, T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, and many others, Morrisson shows that these contexts also had an impact on the techniques and concerns of the literature itself.
The Readers of Novyi Mir
Denis Kozlov Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress PG3022.K69 2013 | Dewey Decimal 891.7090044
In the “Thaw” following Stalin’s death, probing conversations about the nation’s violent past took place in the literary journal Novyi mir (New World). Readers’ letters reveal that discussion of the Terror was central to intellectual and political life during the USSR’s last decades. Denis Kozlov shows how minds change, even in a closed society.
In Re-reading Poets, Paul Kameen offers a deep reflection on the importance of poets and poetry to the reader. Through his historical, philosophical, scholarly, and personal commentary on select poems, Kameen reveals how these works have helped him form a personal connection to each individual poet. He relates their profound impact not only on his own life spent reading, teaching, and writing poetry, but also their potential to influence the lives of readers at every level.
In an examination of works by William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Walt Whitman, and others, Kameen seeks to sense each author’s way of seeing, so that author and reader may meet in a middle ground outside of their own entities where life and art merge in deeply intimate ways. Kameen counters ideologies such as New Criticism and poststructuralism that marginalize the author, and instead focuses on the author as a vital presence in the interpretive process. He analyzes how readers look to the past via “tradition,” conceptualizing history in ways that pre-process texts and make it difficult to connect directly to authors. In this vein, Kameen employs examples from T. S. Eliot, Martin Heidegger, and Mikhail Bakhtin.
Kameen examines how people become poets and how that relates to the process of actually writing poems. He tells of his own evolution as a poet and argues for poetry as a means to an end beyond the poetic, rather than an end in itself. In Re-reading Poets, Kameen’s goal is not to create a new dictum for teaching poetry, but rather to extend poetry’s appeal to an audience far beyond academic walls.
In Shelley and His Readers, the first full-length critical analysis of the dialogue between Shelley's poetry and its contemporary reviewers, Kim Wheatley argues that Shelley's idealism can be recovered through the study of his poetry's reception. Incorporating extensive research in major early-nineteenth-century British periodicals, Wheatley integrates a reception-based methodology with careful textual analysis to demonstrate that the early reception of Shelley's work registers the immediate impact of the poet's increasingly idealistic passion for reforming the world.
Wheatley examines Shelley's poetry within the context of Romantic-era "paranoid politics," a simultaneously empowering and disabling dynamic in which the reviewers employ a heightened language of defensiveness and persecution that paints their adversaries as Satanic rebels against orthodoxy. This "paranoid style" displays a preoccupation with the efficacy of the printed word and singles out radical writers such as Shelley as sources of social contamination.
Using Shelley's Queen Mab to illustrate his early radicalism, Wheatley demonstrates that the poet, like his contemporary reviewers, is caught up in paranoid rhetoric. Failing to challenge the assumptions underlying the paranoid style-conspiracy and contagion-in this poem Shelley takes merely a defiant, oppositional stance. However, Shelley's later poems, exemplified by Prometheus Unbound and Adonais, circumvent the reviewers' rhetoric through their boldly experimental language, a process registered by the reviewers' own responses. These less explicitly political poems transcend the dynamics of cultural paranoia by shifting to an apolitical conception of the aesthetic. In collaboration with its early readers, Shelley's poetry thus moves momentarily beyond paranoid politics.
The final chapter of this study argues that the posthumous reception of Adonais uniquely replicates the elegiac moves and complex idealism of the poem, concluding with a discussion of how the Shelley circle aestheticized the poet after his death.
Shelley and His Readers offers a new approach to the question of how to recuperate Romantic idealism in the face of challenges from both deconstructive and historicist criticism. Its innovative use of reception-based analysis will make this book invaluable not only to specialists of the Romantic period but also to anyone interested in new developments in literary criticism.
In The Sign of the Cannibal Geoffrey Sanborn offers a major reassessment of the work of Herman Melville, a definitive history of the post-Enlightenment discourse on cannibalism, and a provocative contribution to postcolonial theory. These investigations not only explore mid–nineteenth century resistance to the colonial enterprise but argue that Melville, using the discourse on cannibalism to critique colonialism, contributed to the production of resistance. Sanborn focuses on the representations of cannibalism in three of Melville’s key texts—Typee, Moby-Dick, and “Benito Cereno.” Drawing on accounts of Pacific voyages from two centuries and virtually the entire corpus of the post-Enlightenment discourse on cannibalism, he shows how Melville used his narratives to work through the ways in which cannibalism had been understood. In so doing, argues Sanborn, Melville sought to move his readers through stages of possible responses to the phenomenon in order to lead them to consider alternatives to established assumptions and conventions—to understand that in the savage they see primarily their own fear and fascination. Melville thus becomes a narrator of the postcolonial encounter as he uncovers the dynamic of dread and menace that marks the Western construction of the “non-savage” human. Extending the work of Slavoj Zizek and Homi Bhabha while providing significant new insights into the work of Melville, The Sign of the Cannibal represents a breakthrough for students and scholars of postcolonial theory, American literary history, critical anthropology, race, and masculinity.
In Siren Songs: Gender, Audiences, and Narrators in the Odyssey, Lillian Eileen Doherty shows us that the attitude of Odysseus, as well as of the Odyssey, is highly ambivalent toward women. Odysseus rewards supportive female characters by treating them as privileged members of the audience for his own tales. At the same time, dangerous female narrators--who threaten to disrupt or revise the hero's story--are discredited by the narrative framework in which their stories appear.
Siren Songs synthesizes audience-oriented and narratological approaches, and examines the relationships among three kinds of audiences: internal, implied, and actual. The author prefaces her own reading of the Odyssey with an analysis of the issues posed by the earlier feminist readings on which she builds. Should the Odyssey be read as a "closed" text, that is, as one whose meaning is highly determined, or as an "open" text whose contradictions and ambiguities undercut its overt meanings?
Siren Songs presents a feminist critique of the Odyssey in an accessible manner aimed at a more general audience. All Greek is translated, and critical terminology is clearly defined.
Lillian Eileen Doherty is Associate Professor of Classics, University of Maryland, College Park.
Did the emergence of a free press liberate eighteenth-century American authors? Most critics and historians have assumed so. In a study certain to force a rethinking of early American literary culture, Grantland S. Rice overturns this dominant view. Rice argues that the lapse of Puritan censorship, the consolidation of copyright law, and the explosion of a commercial print culture confronted writers in the new United States with a striking predicament: the depoliticization and commodification of public expression.
Rice shows that the rigorous censorship practiced by Puritan authorities conferred an implicit prestige on texts as civic interventions, helping to foster a vigorous and indigenous tradition of sociopolitical criticism. With special attention to the sudden emergence of the novel in post-revolutionary America, Rice reveals how the emergence of economic liberalism undermined the earlier tradition of political writing by transforming American authorship from an expression of individual civic conscience to a market-oriented profession.
Includes discussions of the writings of Benjamin Franklin, Michel-Guillaume-Jean de Crèvecoeur, and Hugh Henry Brackenridge.
For two spring days in 2001, John Updike visited Cincinnati, Ohio, engaging and charming his audiences, reading from his fiction, fielding questions, sitting for an interview, participating in a panel discussion, and touring the Queen City.
Successful writers typically spend a portion of their lives traveling the country to give readings and lectures. While a significant experience for author and audience alike, this public spectacle, once covered in detailed newspaper accounts, now is barely noticed by the media. Updike in Cincinnati—composed of a wealth of materials, including session transcripts, short stories discussed and read by the author, photographs, and anecdotal observations about Updike's performance and personal interactions--is unique in its comprehensive coverage of a literary visit by a major American author.
Updike's eloquence, intelligence, improvisational skills, and gift for comedy are all on display. With natural grace, he discusses a range of topics, including his novels and short stories, his mother and oldest son as writers, Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson, the Nobel Prize, his appearance on The Simpsons, the Cold War, and Hamlet.
Augmented with commentary by critics W. H. Pritchard and Donald Greiner, and an introduction and interview by James Schiff, Updike in Cincinnati provides an engaging and detailed portrait of one of America's contemporary literary giants.
As the most widely read Roman poem in antiquity, the Aeneid was indelibly burned into the memories of generations of Roman school children. In her new book, Yasmin Syed analyzes the formative influence the poem exerted on its broad audience of educated Romans. Syed analyzes Roman pedagogy and reading practices as well as ancient beliefs about the powerful influence of poetry. Her study considers these cultural components together with the aspects of identity that define the Aeneid's characters. By doing so, Syed shows how Vergil's ancient audiences saw themselves---their experiences, goals, and values---reflected in the poem and guided by it. In particular, Syed's treatment of gender and ethnicity brings to light the key role of Vergil's poem in the formation of Romanity.
Yasmin Syed is Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of California, Berkeley.
This volume explores the range of relationships among women writers, women detectives and women-centered mystery fiction, and women readers. Focusing on writers as diverse as Sara Paretsky, Joan Hess, Sarah Caudwell, P. D. James, Katherine V. Forrest, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Sue Grafton, D. R. Meredith, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Barbara Wilson, the authors analyze the development of detective fiction with a different agenda: the woman-authored woman detective.
The eleven essays concentrate new attention on the trio of reader, writer, and text when all three are modified by the terms “woman” and “mystery.”
Women Writing the Academy is based on an extensive interview study by Gesa E. Kirsch that investigates how women in different academic disciplines perceive and describe their experiences as writers in the university.
Kirsch’s study focuses on the writing strategies of successful women writers, their ways of establishing authority, and the kinds of audiences they address in different disciplinary settings. Based on multiple interviews with thirty-five women from five different disciplines (anthropology, education, history, nursing, and psychology) and four academic ranks (seniors, graduate students, and faculty before and after tenure), this is the first book to systematically explore the academic context in which women write and publish.
While there are many studies in literary criticism on women as writers of fiction, there has not been parallel scholarship on women as writers of professional discourse, be it inside or outside the academy. Through her research, for example, Kirsch found that women were less likely than their male counterparts to think of their work as sufficiently significant to write up and submit for publication, tended to hold on to their work longer than men before sending it out, and were less likely than men to revise and resubmit manuscripts that had been initially rejected.
This book is significant in that it investigates a new area of research— gender and writing—and in doing so brings together findings on audience, authority, and gender.
In The Writer in the Well: On Misreading and Rewriting Literature, Gary Weissman takes readers inside Ira Sher’s short story “The Man in the Well,” about a group of children who discover a man trapped in an old well and decide not to help him. While absorbing readers in the pleasurable activity of interpreting this haunting tale, Weissman draws on dozens of his students’ responses to the short story, as well as his dialogue with its author, to show that the deepest engagement with literature occurs when we approach literary analysis as a collaborative enterprise conducted largely through writing.
Rethinking the methods and goals of literary analysis, Weissman’s study redefines the nature of authorial intention and reconceives literary interpretation as a writing-based practice. By integrating writing pedagogy with older and newer schools of thought—from psychoanalytic, reader-response, and poststructuralist theories to rhetorical narrative theory and cognitive literary studies—and bridging the fields of literary studies, composition and rhetoric, and creative writing, The Writer in the Well argues that the richest understanding of a literary work lies in probing how it has been misinterpreted and reconceived and offers a new “writer-response theory.”
This highly accessible and thought-provoking book, which includes the full text of Sher’s “The Man in the Well,” is designed to engage scholars, teachers, students, and avid readers of literature.