Jonathan FLATLEY Harvard University Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS214.F63 2008 | Dewey Decimal 810.9353
The surprising claim of this book is that dwelling on loss is not necessarily depressing. Instead, embracing melancholy can be a road back to contact with others and can lead people to productively remap their relationship to the world around them. Flatley demonstrates that a seemingly disparate set of modernist writers and thinkers showed how aesthetic activity can give us the means to comprehend and change our relation to loss.
Examining the complex relationships between the political, popular, sexual, and textual interests of Nathaniel Hawthorne's work, Lauren Berlant argues that Hawthorne mounted a sophisticated challenge to America's collective fantasy of national unity. She shows how Hawthorne's idea of citizenship emerged from an attempt to adjudicate among the official and the popular, the national and the local, the collective and the individual, utopia and history.
At the core of Berlant's work is a three-part study of The Scarlet Letter, analyzing the modes and effects of national identity that characterize the narrator's representation of Puritan culture and his construction of the novel's political present tense. This analysis emerges from an introductory chapter on American citizenship in the 1850s and a following chapter on national fantasy, ranging from Hawthorne's early work "Alice Doane's Appeal" to the Statue of Liberty. In her conclusion, Berlant suggests that Hawthorne views everyday life and local political identities as alternate routes to the revitalization of the political and utopian promises of modern national life.
Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature
An audacious, interdisciplinary study that combines the burgeoning fields of digital aesthetics and eco-criticism
In Animal, Vegetable, Digital, Elizabeth Swanstrom makes a confident and spirited argument for the use of digital art in support of ameliorating human engagement with the environment and suggests a four-part framework for analyzing and discussing such applications.
Through close readings of a panoply of texts, artworks, and cultural artifacts, Swanstrom demonstrates that the division popular culture has for decades observed between nature and technology is artificial. Not only is digital technology not necessarily a brick in the road to a dystopian future of environmental disaster, but digital art forms can be a revivifying bridge that returns people to a more immediate relationship to nature as well as their own embodied selves.
To analyze and understand the intersection of digital art and nature, Animal, Vegetable, Digital explores four aesthetic techniques: coding, collapsing, corresponding, and conserving. “Coding” denotes the way artists use operational computer code to blur distinctions between the reader and text, and, hence, the world. Inviting a fluid conception of the boundary between human and technology, “collapsing” voids simplistic assumptions about the human body’s innate perimeter. The process of translation between natural and human-readable signs that enables communication is described as “corresponding.” “Conserving” is the application of digital art by artists to democratize large- and small-scale preservation efforts.
A fascinating synthesis of literary criticism, communications and journalism, science and technology, and rhetoric that draws on such disparate phenomena as simulated environments, video games, and popular culture, Animal, Vegetable, Digital posits that partnerships between digital aesthetics and environmental criticism are possible that reconnect humankind to nature and reaffirm its kinship with other living and nonliving things.
In this account of how the novel reorients philosophy toward the meaning of existence, Yi-Ping Ong shows that the existentialists discovered a radical way of thinking about the relation between the form of the novel and the nature of self-knowledge, freedom, and the world. At stake are the conditions under which knowledge of existence is possible.
In The Art of Criticism, William Veeder and Susan M. Griffin have brought together for the first time the best of the Master's critical work: the most important of his Prefaces, which R. P. Blackmur has called "the most sustained and I think the most eloquent and original piece of literary criticism in existence"; his studies of Hawthorne, George Eliot, Balzac, Zola, de Maupassant, Turgenev, Sante-Beuve, and Arnold; and his essays on the function of criticism and the future of the novel.
The editors have provided what James himself emphasized in his literary criticism—the text's context. Each selection is framed by an editorial commentary and notes which give its biographical, bibliographical, and critical background and cite other references in James' work to the topic discussed. This framework, along with the editors' introduction, gives the reader a sense of the place of these pieces in the history of criticism.
With so many new children's books published each year, how can children learn to choose good books, and how can adults help them? This guide is designed to aid adults—parents, teachers, librarians—in selecting from the best children's literature published in recent years. By encouraging reading and ownership of books, by suggesting better books, and by discussing good books with enthusiasm and understanding, adults may help children to acquire discrimination in reading.
This guide contains 1,400 reviews of the best children's literature published between 1966 and 1972.
2019 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominee, Best Academic/Scholarly Work
In Between Pen and Pixel: Comics, Materiality, and the Book of the Future, Aaron Kashtan argues that paying attention to comics helps us understand the future of the book. Debates over the future of the book tend to focus on text-based literature, particularly fiction. However, because comics make the effects of materiality visible, they offer a clearer demonstration than prose fiction of how the rise of digital reading platforms transforms the reading experience. Comics help us see the effects of alterations in features such as publication design and typography, whereas in print literature, such transformations often go unnoticed.
With case studies of the work of Alison Bechdel, Matt Kindt, Lynda Barry, Carla Speed McNeil, Chris Ware, and Randall Munroe, Kashtan examines print comics that critique digital technology, comics that are remediated from print to digital and vice versa, and comics that combine print and digital functionality. Kashtan argues that comics are adapting to the rise of digital reading technologies more effectively than print literature has yet done. Therefore, looking at comics gives us a preview of what the future of the book looks like. Ultimately, Between Pen and Pixel argues that as print literature becomes more sensitive to issues of materiality and mediacy, print books will increasingly start to resemble to comic books.
Critics often characterize white consumption of African American culture as a form of theft that echoes the fantasies of 1950s-era bohemians, or "White Negroes," who romanticized black culture as anarchic and sexually potent. In Beyond the White Negro, Kimberly Chabot Davis claims such a view fails to describe the varied politics of racial crossover in the past fifteen years.
Davis analyzes how white engagement with African American novels, film narratives, and hip-hop can help form anti-racist attitudes that may catalyze social change and racial justice. Though acknowledging past failures to establish cross-racial empathy, she focuses on examples that show avenues for future progress and change. Her study of ethnographic data from book clubs and college classrooms shows how engagement with African American culture and pedagogical support can lead to the kinds of white self-examination that make empathy possible. The result is a groundbreaking text that challenges the trend of focusing on society's failures in achieving cross-racial empathy and instead explores possible avenues for change.
In the last two decades, biographies have grown in popularity, often eclipsing the novel in sales and accessibility to specialists and the general public alike. Widely regarded as a distinctly modern form, today's biographies are marked by their willingness to "tell all" or to pursue overt political aims. But how new, how unprecedented, are today's biographies? Biographical Passages addresses this important question by juxtaposing Victorian and Modernist biography from diverse perspectives.
Challenging the view that modern biographies are radically different from the straitlaced and ponderous Victorian tomes, Joe Law and Linda K. Hughes illustrate that continuities in biographical practice do exist, proving, for example, that the "tell-all" biography is not the exclusive preserve of the twentieth century. Enlisting the talents of such acclaimed biographers and scholars as P. N. Furbank and Michael Holroyd, Biographical Passages is a true exploration of the art and craft of biography. Essays on the usefulness of biography in approaching late Victorian artists provide a detailed scrutiny of modern biography across disciplines and from a rich array of vantage points. Additional essays on E. M. Forster and the relations between England and India analyze the role of cultural difference in biography.
Law and Hughes conclude Biographical Passages with an epilogue in tribute to a scholar whose work is closely connected to all the essays in this collection—Mary Lago. Widely known for her important contributions to studies of late Victorian and Edwardian literature, art, music, and Anglo-Indian relations, Lago is the author of biographies of Christina Herringham and E. M. Forster.
Book clubs are everywhere these days. And women talk about the clubs they belong to with surprising emotion. But why are the clubs so important to them? And what do the women discuss when they meet? To answer questions like these, Elizabeth Long spent years observing and participating in women's book clubs and interviewing members from different discussion groups. Far from being an isolated activity, she finds reading for club members to be an active and social pursuit, a crucial way for women to reflect creatively on the meaning of their lives and their place in the social order.
In this generous collection of book reviews and literary essays, legendary Village Voice rock critic Robert Christgau showcases the passion that made him a critic—his love for the written word. Many selections address music, from blackface minstrelsy to punk and hip-hop, artists from Lead Belly to Patti Smith, and fellow critics from Ellen Willis and Lester Bangs to Nelson George and Jessica Hopper. But Book Reports also teases out the popular in the Bible and 1984 as well as pornography and science fiction, and analyzes at length the cultural theory of Raymond Williams, the detective novels of Walter Mosley, the history of bohemia, and the 2008 financial crisis. It establishes Christgau as not just the Dean of American Rock Critics, but one of America's most insightful cultural critics as well.
“There they rest, inert, impertinent, in gallery space—those book forms either imitated or mutilated, replicas of reading matter or its vestiges. Strange, after its long and robust career, for the book to take early retirement in a museum, not as rare manuscript but as functionless sculpture. Readymade or constructed, such book shapes are canceled as text when deposited as gallery objects, shut off from their normal reading when not, in some yet more drastic way, dismembered or reassembled.” So begins Bookwork, which follows our passion for books to its logical extreme in artists who employ found or simulated books as a sculptural medium. Investigating the conceptual labor behind this proliferating international art practice, Garrett Stewart looks at hundreds of book-like objects, alone or as part of gallery installations, in this original account of works that force attention upon a book’s material identity and cultural resonance.
Less an inquiry into the artist’s book than an exploration of the book form’s contemporary objecthood, Stewart’s interdisciplinary approach traces the lineage of these aggressive artifacts from the 1919 Unhappy Readymade of Marcel Duchamp down to the current crisis of paper-based media in the digital era. Bookwork surveys and illustrates a stunning variety of appropriated and fabricated books alike, ranging from hacksawed discards to the giant lead folios of Anselm Kiefer. The unreadable books Stewart engages with in this timely study are found, again and again, to generate graphic metaphors for the textual experience they preclude, becoming in this sense legible after all.
Bring on the Books for Everybody is an engaging assessment of the robust popular literary culture that has developed in the United States during the past two decades. Jim Collins describes how a once solitary and print-based experience has become an exuberantly social activity, enjoyed as much on the screen as on the page. Fueled by Oprah’s Book Club, Miramax film adaptations, superstore bookshops, and new technologies such as the Kindle digital reader, literary fiction has been transformed into best-selling, high-concept entertainment. Collins highlights the infrastructural and cultural changes that have given rise to a flourishing reading public at a time when the future of the book has been called into question. Book reading, he claims, has not become obsolete; it has become integrated into popular visual media.
Collins explores how digital technologies and the convergence of literary, visual, and consumer cultures have changed what counts as a “literary experience” in phenomena ranging from lush film adaptations such as The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love to the customer communities at Amazon. Central to Collins’s analysis and, he argues, to contemporary literary culture, is the notion that refined taste is now easily acquired; it is just a matter of knowing where to access it and whose advice to trust. Using recent novels, he shows that the redefined literary landscape has affected not just how books are being read, but also what sort of novels are being written for these passionate readers. Collins connects literary bestsellers from The Jane Austen Book Club and Literacy and Longing in L.A. to Saturday and The Line of Beauty, highlighting their depictions of fictional worlds filled with avid readers and their equations of reading with cultivated consumer taste.
By the end of the nineteenth century, Ralph Waldo Emerson was well on his way to becoming the “Wisest American” and the “Sage of Concord,” a literary celebrity and a national icon. With that fame came what Robert Habich describes as a blandly sanctified version of Emerson held widely by the reading public. Building Their Own Waldos sets out to understand the dilemma faced by Emerson’s early biographers: how to represent a figure whose subversive individualism had been eclipsed by his celebrity, making him less a representative of his age than a caricature of it.
Drawing on never-before-published letters, diaries, drafts, business records, and private documents, Habich explores the making of a cultural hero through the stories of Emerson’s first biographers— George Willis Cooke, a minister most recently from Indianapolis who considered himself a disciple; the English reformer and newspaper mogul Alexander Ireland, a friend for half a century; Moncure D. Conway, a Southern abolitionist then residing in London, who called Emerson his “spiritual father and intellectual teacher”; the poet and medical professor Oliver Wendell Holmes, with Emerson a member of Boston’s gathering of literary elite, the Saturday Club; James Elliot Cabot, the family’s authorized biographer, an architect and amateur philosopher with unlimited access to Emerson’s unpublished papers; and Emerson’s son Edward, a physician and painter whose father had passed over him as literary executor in favor of Cabot.
Just as their biographies reveal a complex, socially engaged Emerson, so too do the biographers’ own stories illustrate the real-world perils, challenges, and motives of life-writing in the late nineteenth century, when biographers were routinely vilified as ghoulish and disreputable and biography as a genre underwent a profound redefinition. Building Their Own Waldos is at once a revealing look at Emerson’s constructed reputation, a case study in the rewards and dangers of Victorian life-writing, and the story of six authors struggling amidst personal misfortunes and shifting expectations to capture the elusive character of America’s “representative man,” as they knew him and as they needed him to be.
What does censorship do to a culture? How do censors justify their work? What are the mechanisms by which censorship -- and self-censorship -- alter people's sense of time and memory, truth and reality? Thomas Bass faced these questions when The Spy Who Loved Us, his account of the famous Time magazine journalist and double agent Pham Xuan An, was published in a Vietnamese edition. When the book finally appeared in 2014, after five years of negotiations with Vietnamese censors, more than four hundred passages had been altered or cut from the text.
After the book was published, Bass flew to Vietnam to meet his censors, at least the half dozen who would speak with him. In Censorship in Vietnam, he describes these meetings and examines how censorship works, both in Vietnam and elsewhere in the world. An exemplary piece of investigative reporting, Censorship in Vietnam opens a window into the country today and shows us the precarious nature of intellectual freedom in a world governed by suppression.
Can the novel survive in an age when tales of historical figures and contemporary personalities dominate the reading lists of the book-buying public?
Naomi Jacobs addresses this question in a study of writers such as William Styron, E. L. Doctorow, and Robert Coover, who challenge the dominance of nonfiction by populating their fictions with real people, living and dead. Jacobs explores the genesis, varieties, and implications of this trend in a prose as lively as that of the writers she critiques.
Using as a case study Robert Coover’s portrait of Richard Nixon in The Public Burning, Jacobs addresses the important legal and ethical questions raised by this trend and applies contemporary libel law to the fictionalization of living people, such as Richard Nixon. She closes her study by speculating on the future of this device and of the novel.
Christianity and the Transformation of the Book combines broad-gauged synthesis and close textual analysis to reconstruct the kinds of books and the ways of organizing scholarly inquiry and collaboration among the Christians of Caesarea, on the coast of Roman Palestine. The book explores the dialectical relationship between intellectual history and the history of the book, even as it expands our understanding of early Christian scholarship.
Communal singing and reading of Latin texts formed the core of Christian ritual and occupied hours of the Benedictine monk’s day. These monks also illustrated the texts, and the full meaning of these images is often only revealed when analyzed in concert with the oral and written word that originally accompanied them. The earliest manuscripts of the Cîteaux, copied and illustrated during a period of intense reform at the monastery, demonstrate the interdependence between art, liturgy, and reform.
From 1850 to 1867, Charles Dickens produced special issues (called “numbers”) of his journals Household Words and All the Year Round, which were released shortly before Christmas each year. In Collaborative Dickens, Melisa Klimaszewski undertakes the first comprehensive study of these Christmas numbers. She argues for a revised understanding of Dickens as an editor who, rather than ceaselessly bullying his contributors, sometimes accommodated contrary views and depended upon multivocal narratives for his own success.
Klimaszewski uncovers connections among and between the stories in each Christmas collection. She thus reveals ongoing conversations between the works of Dickens and his collaborators on topics important to the Victorians, including race, empire, supernatural hauntings, marriage, disability, and criminality. Stories from Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell, and understudied women writers such as Amelia B. Edwards and Adelaide Anne Procter interact provocatively with Dickens’s writing. By restoring links between stories from as many as nine different writers in a given year, Klimaszewski demonstrates that a respect for the Christmas numbers’ plural authorship and intertextuality results in a new view of the complexities of collaboration in the Victorian periodical press and a new appreciation for some of the most popular texts Dickens published.
“I wrote a poem this morning, and one of the themes of the poem is that languages are not equivalent, that each language is a new way of feeling the world.”—Jorge Luis Borges
Recorded during Borges’ final years, this third volume of his conversations with Osvaldo Ferrari offers a rare glimpse into the life and work of Argentina’s master writer and favorite conversationalist. In Conversations: Volume 3, Borges and Ferrari discuss subjects as diverse as film criticism, fantastic literature, science fiction, the Argentinian literary tradition, and the works of writers such as Bunyan, Wilde, Joyce, and Yeats, among others. With his signature wit, Borges converses on the philosophical basis of his writing, his travels, and his fascination with religious mysticism. He also ruminates on more personal themes, including the influence of his family on his intellectual development, his friendships, and living with blindness.
The recurrent theme of these conversations, however, is a life lived through books. Borges draws on the resources of a mental library that embraces world literature, both ancient and modern. He recalls the works that were a constant presence in his memory and maps his changing attitudes to a highly personal canon. These conversations are a testimony to the supple ways that Borges explored his own relation to numerous traditions—the conjunction of his life, his lucidity, and his imagination.
In her new study, Culinary Poetics and Edible Images in Twentieth-Century American Literature, Stacie Cassarino traces the tradition of avant-garde food experimentation across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries to show how a fixation on the materiality of edible things, expressed through the language of food, became a way for American writers to respond to the culinary, political, and aesthetic tastes of the nation.
Cassarino takes the reader through the changing dynamics of food production and consumption, from wartime sensibilities of patriotic eating to the postwar excess of culinary cosmopolitanism and finally to contemporary supermarket pastorals. She pairs chefs and poets—Julia Child and Gertrude Stein, Poppy Cannon and Frank O’Hara, Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor and Harryette Mullen—to argue that each converts eating into an aesthetic opportunity that has the power to impact how people consume. In this way, Cassarino reveals the modern cookbook not just as a literary counterpart to contemporary poetry but also as vital to the literature and art occurring around it. From Futurist cookbooks to fast food lyrics, from Gullah recipes to Eat Art, she reminds us that global foodscapes are connected to aesthetic movements in literature and art.
The novel has lost its purpose, Joseph Bottum argues in this fascinating new look at the history of fiction. We have not transcended our need for what novels provide, but we have grown to distrust the culture that allowed novels to flourish. “For almost three hundred years,” Bottum writes, “the novel was a major art form, perhaps the major art form, of the modern world—the device by which, more than any other, we tried to explain ourselves to ourselves.” But now we no longer “read novels the way we used to.”
In a historical tour de force—the kind of sweeping analysis almost lost to contemporary literary criticism—Bottum traces the emergence of the novel from the modern religious crisis of the individual soul and the atomized self. In chapters on such figures as Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Mann, he examines the enormous ambitions once possessed by novels and finds in these older works a rebuke of our current failure of nerve.
“We walk with our heads down,” Bottum writes. “Without a sense of the old goals and reasons––a sense of the good achieved, understood as progress––all that remains are the crimes the culture committed in the past to get where it is now. uncompensated by achievement, unexplained by purpose, these unameliorated sins must now seem overwhelming: the very definition of a failed culture.” In readings of everything from genre fiction to children’s books, Bottum finds a lack of faith in the ability of art to respond to the deep problems of existence. “the decline of the novel’s prestige reflects and confirms a genuine cultural crisis,” he writes.
Linking the novel to its religious origins, Bottum describes the urgent search for meaning in the new conditions of the modern age: “If the natural world is imagined by modernity as empty of purpose, then the hunt for nature’s importance is supernatural, by definition.” the novel became a fundamental device by which culture pursued the supernatural—facilitated by modernity’s confidence in science and cultural progress. Losing that confidence, Bottum says, we lost the purpose of the art: “the novel didn’t fail us. We failed the novel.”
Told in fast-paced, wide-ranging prose, Bottum’s The Decline of the Novel is a succinct critique of classical and contemporary fiction, providing guidelines for navigating the vast genre. this book is a must-read for those who hunger for grand accounts of literature, students of literary form, critics of contemporary art, and general readers who wish to learn, finally, what we all used to know: the deep moral purpose of reading novels.
Why do some surprises delight—the endings of Agatha Christie novels, films like The Sixth Sense, the flash awareness that Pip’s benefactor is not (and never was!) Miss Havisham? Writing at the intersection of cognitive science and narrative pleasure, Vera Tobin explains how our brains conspire with stories to produce those revelatory plots that define a “well-made surprise.”
By tracing the prevalence of surprise endings in both literary fiction and popular literature and showing how they exploit our mental limits, Tobin upends two common beliefs. The first is cognitive science’s tendency to consider biases a form of moral weakness and failure. The second is certain critics’ presumption that surprise endings are mere shallow gimmicks. The latter is simply not true, and the former tells at best half the story. Tobin shows that building a good plot twist is a complex art that reflects a sophisticated understanding of the human mind.
Reading classic, popular, and obscure literature alongside the latest research in cognitive science, Tobin argues that a good surprise works by taking advantage of our mental limits. Elements of Surprise describes how cognitive biases, mental shortcuts, and quirks of memory conspire with stories to produce wondrous illusions, and also provides a sophisticated how-to guide for writers. In Tobin’s hands, the interactions of plot and cognition reveal the interdependencies of surprise, sympathy, and sense-making. The result is a new appreciation of the pleasures of being had.
Humanities scholars, in general, often have a difficult time explaining to others why their work matters, and eighteenth-century literary scholars are certainly no exception. To help remedy this problem, literary scholars Bridget Draxler and Danielle Spratt offer this collection of essays to defend the field’s relevance and demonstrate its ability to help us better understand current events, from the proliferation of media to ongoing social justice battles.
The result is a book that offers a range of approaches to engaging with undergraduates, non-professionals, and broader publics into an appreciation of eighteenth-century literature. Essays draw on innovative projects ranging from a Jane Austen reading group held at the public library to students working with an archive to digitize an overlooked writer’s novel.
Reminding us that the eighteenth century was an exhilarating age of lively political culture—marked by the rise of libraries and museums, the explosion of the press, and other platforms for public intellectual debates—Draxler and Spratt provide a book that will not only be useful to eighteenth-century scholars, but can also serve as a model for other periods as well. This book will appeal to librarians, archivists, museum directors, scholars, and others interested in digital humanities in the public life.
Contributors: Gabriela Almendarez, Jessica Bybee, Nora Chatchoomsai, Gillian Dow, Bridget Draxler, Joan Gillespie, Larisa Good, Elizabeth K. Goodhue, Susan Celia Greenfield, Liz Grumbach, Kellen Hinrichsen, Ellen Jarosz, Hannah Jorgenson, John C. Keller, Naz Keynejad, Stephen Kutay, Chuck Lewis, Nicole Linton, Devoney Looser, Whitney Mannies, Ai Miller, Tiffany Ouellette, Carol Parrish, Paul Schuytema, David Spadafora, Danielle Spratt, Anne McKee Stapleton, Jessica Stewart, Colleen Tripp, Susan Twomey, Nikki JD White, Amy Weldon
English in Print from Caxton to Shakespeare to Milton examines the history of early English books, exploring the concept of putting the English language into print with close study of the texts, the formats, the audiences, and the functions of English books. Lavishly illustrated with more than 130 full-color images of stunning rare books, this volume investigates a full range of issues regarding the dissemination of English language and culture through printed works, including the standardization of typography, grammar, and spelling; the appearance of popular literature; and the development of school grammars and dictionaries. Valerie Hotchkiss and Fred C. Robinson provide engaging descriptions of more than a hundred early English books drawn from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and the Elizabethan Club of Yale University. The study nearly mirrors the chronological coverage of Pollard and Redgrave's famous Short-Title Catalogue (1475-1640), beginning with William Caxton, England's first printer, and ending with John Milton, the English language's most eloquent defender of the freedom of the press in his Areopagitica of 1644. William Shakespeare, neither a printer nor a writer much concerned with publishing his own plays, nonetheless deserves his central place in this study because Shakespeare imprints, and Renaissance drama in general, provide a fascinating window on the world of English printing in the period between Caxton and Milton.
Over the past fifty years, knowledge of the natural world, history, and human behavior has expanded dramatically. What has been learned in the academy has become part of political discourse, sermons, and everyday conversation. The dominant medium for transferring knowledge from universities to the public is popularization -- books of serious nonfiction that make complex ideas and information accessible to nonexperts. Such writers as Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking, Daniel Boorstin, and Robert Coles have attracted hundreds of thousands of readers. As fields such as biology, physics, history, and psychology have changed the ways we view ourselves and our place in the universe, popularization has played an essential role in helping us to understand our world.
Expanding the American Mind begins by comparing fiction and nonfiction -- their relative respectability in the eyes of reading experts and in the opinions of readers themselves. It then traces the roots of popularization from the Middle Ages to the present, examining changes in literacy, education, and university politics. Focusing on the period since World War II, it examines the ways that curricular reform has increased interest in popularization as well as the impact of specialization and professionalization among the faculty. It looks at the motivations of academic authors and the risks and rewards that come from writing for a popular audience. It also explains how experts write for nonexperts -- the rhetorical devices they use and the voices in which they communicate.
Beth Luey also looks at the readers of popularizations -- their motivations for reading, the ways they evaluate nonfiction, and how they choose what to read. This is the first book to use surveys and online reader responses to study nonfiction reading. It also compares the experience of reading serious nonfiction with that of reading other genres.
Using publishers' archives and editor-author correspondence, Luey goes on to examine what editors, designers, and marketers in this very competitive business do to create and sell popularizations to the largest audience possible. In a brief afterword she discusses popularization and the Web. The result is a highly readable and engaging survey of this distinctive genre of writing.
From Herman Melville’s claim that “failure is the true test of greatness” to Henry Adams’s self-identification with the “mortifying failure in [his] long education” and William Faulkner’s eagerness to be judged by his “splendid failure to do the impossible,” the rhetoric of failure has served as a master trope of modernist American literary expression. David Ball’s magisterial study addresses the fundamental questions of language, meaning, and authority that run counter to well-rehearsed claims of American innocence and positivity, beginning with the American Renaissance and extending into modernist and contemporary literature. The rhetoric of failure was used at various times to engage artistic ambition, the arrival of advanced capitalism, and a rapidly changing culture, not to mention sheer exhaustion. False Starts locates a lively narrative running through American literature that consequently queries assumptions about the development of modernism in the United States.
By November 1822, the British reading public had already voraciously consumed both Walter Scott’s expensive novels and Rudolf Ackermann’s exquisite lithographs. The next decade, referred to by some scholars as dormant and unproductive, is in fact bursting with Forget Me Nots, Friendship’s Offerings, Keepsakes, and Literary Souvenirs. By wrapping literature, poetry, and art into an alluring package, editors and publishers saturated the market with a new, popular, and best-selling genre, the literary annual. In Forget Me Not, Katherine D. Harris assesses the phenomenal rise of the annual and its origins in other English, German, and French literary forms as well as its social influence on women, its redefinition of the feminine, and its effects on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century print culture. Harris adopts an interdisciplinary approach that uses textual and social contexts to explore a forum of subversive femininity, where warfare and the masculine hero were not celebrated.
Initially published in diminutive, decoratively bound volumes filled with engravings of popularly recognized artwork and “sentimental” poetry and prose, the annuals attracted a primarily middle-class female readership. The annuals were released each November, making them an ideal Christmas gift, lover’s present, or token of friendship. Selling more than 100,000 copies during each holiday season, the annuals were accused of causing an epidemic and inspiring an “unmasculine and unbawdy age” that lasted through 1860 and lingered in derivative forms until the early twentieth century in both the United States and Europe. The annual thrived in the 1820s and after despite—or perhaps because of—its “feminine” writing and beautiful form.
Over the past decade the popularity of black writers including E. Lynn Harris and Terry McMillan has been hailed as an indication that an active African American reading public has come into being. Yet this is not a new trend; there is a vibrant history of African American literacy, literary associations, and book clubs. Forgotten Readers reveals that neglected past, looking at the reading practices of free blacks in the antebellum north and among African Americans following the Civil War. It places the black upper and middle classes within American literary history, illustrating how they used reading and literary conversation as a means to assert their civic identities and intervene in the political and literary cultures of the United States from which they were otherwise excluded.
Forgotten Readers expands our definition of literacy and urges us to think of literature as broadly as it was conceived of in the nineteenth century. Elizabeth McHenry delves into archival sources, including the records of past literary societies and the unpublished writings of their members. She examines particular literary associations, including the Saturday Nighters of Washington, D.C., whose members included Jean Toomer and Georgia Douglas Johnson. She shows how black literary societies developed, their relationship to the black press, and the ways that African American women’s clubs—which flourished during the 1890s—encouraged literary activity. In an epilogue, McHenry connects this rich tradition of African American interest in books, reading, and literary conversation to contemporary literary phenomena such as Oprah Winfrey’s book club.
Liz Falvey, “Ultimate Gifts”
Gina Troisi, “The Angle of Flickering Light”
Dawn S. Davies, “Band-Aid Wrappers at the Bottom of the Bin: A Soliloquy”
Molly Beer, “On Nativity”
Re’Lynn Hansen, “Race This Race”
Carolyn Flynn, “Resurrection”
Emily Bradley, “The Gravity of Marble”
Gary Garvin, “Above the Roofs of Paris, a Non-Memoir”
Gail Seneca, “Waiting for the Bomb”
Aurvi Sharma, “Poetry, KY”
Melissa L. Sevigny, “Shallow Roots”
Essay with Commentary
Patrick Madden, “Spit”
Patrick Madden, “Commentary on ‘Spit’: Transmuting the Ruder World into the Finer”
Writer as Reader
Robin Silbergleid, “Pregnant Pauses: Re-reading Carole Maso’s The Room Lit by Roses”
“Inter-Review: Jen Percy and Leslie Jamison Talk with Each Other about Their New Books”
Randon Billings Noble, “Many Ways of Seeing, Many Ways of Saying”
Fred Arroyo, “Listening to Memory”
Paul Haney, “The Burroway House”
Honoring Judith Kitchen
Kate Carroll de Gutes, “Learning To Be on the Page: The Generosity and Insight of Judith Kitchen”
Sonja Livingston, “Hypotenuse Blue”
Lia Purpura, “No Distance, All Directions: On ‘Displacement,’ from Distance and Direction”
Brenda Miller, “Considering Judith Kitchen”
Fleda Brown, “Judith Kitchen’s Uncertainty Principle”
Dinah Lenney, “Like One of Those Songs that You Can’t Get Out of Your Head”
Joe Mackall, “The Breathing Green of Judith Kitchen”
Stan Sanvel Rubin, “End with a Question: Reflections on Judith Kitchen’s Aesthetic and Achievement”
Cate Hennessey, “Beets”
Jericho Parms, “Origins”
Stephen D. Gutierrez, “Hopper at the Train Yard”
Jad Adkins, “Airborne”
Brandel France de Bravo, “Transutopia”
Kelley Shinn, “Airy Nothings”
Diane Glancy, “Selections from An Act of Disobedience”
Nona Kennedy Carlson, “Behind the Wheel”
Laurel DiGangi, “The Club”
Mary Kudenov, “Threadbare”
Lauren Crux, “Good Enough. For Now.”
Fabienne Sylvia Josaphat, “Bitter in the Mouth”
Hayley Katzen, “Bachelor Brothers”
Lynna Williams, “Where We Are”
Essay with Commentary
Dawn S. Davies, “Pie”
Dawn S. Davies, “Commentary on ‘Pie’: Secrecy, Honesty, and Creative Nonfiction”
Writer as Reader
Doug Hesse, “Teaching a Stone to Read”
Anne Panning, “A Remembrance of Things Present: The Circus Train by Judith Kitchen”
Joyce Meier, “On Love, Language, and Loss”
Susan F. O’Neill, “Transformations”
Clinton Crockett Peters, “Plumbing the Tide”
“Inter-Review: Sarah Gorham and Ladette Randolph Talk with Each Other About Their New Books”
Denise Duhamel and Julie Marie Wade, “Sixteen Forecasts”
Kathryn U. Hulings, “Light”
Michael Chaney, “Is the Cartoonal Violent?”
Mimi Dixon, “Anesthesia”
Molly Tranberg, “How to Build a Fortress”
Mira Dougherty-Johnson, “Recapitulation Theory”
Jacob M. Appel, “Why Get There from Here?”
Rachael Perry, “The Sand Dunes: An Elegy”
Lawrence Lenhart, “Too Slow Is How That Tortoise Go: A Carapace in 37 Parts”
Jane Bernstein, “The Incident in My Park”
Deborah Thompson, “Brother Sammy”
Essays with Commentary
Katherine E. Standefer, “Animalis: References for a Body, One Winter”
Katherine E. Standefer, “Breaking the Body: On the Writing of ‘Animalis’”
Lina M. Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, “The Peach Orchard”
Lina M. Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, “On ‘The Peach Orchard’”
Writer as Reader
Dawn S. Davies, “Disquiet and the Lyric Essay”
William Bradley, “The Accidental Ann Landers”
Eric LeMay, “‘I—The First Ever to Do So’”
Holly Welker, “Based on a True Story”
Michael Martone and Wendy S. Walters, “Inter-Review: Michael
Martone and Wendy S. Walters Talk with Each Other about Their New Books”
Michael Ramos, “A Long but Incomplete List of Some of the Things You Can’t (Don’t) Talk About”
Victoria Blanco, “Desert Race”
Sharon Stephenson, “On Marie Curie and Me”
Nick Neely, “Gone Rogue”
Henry Wei Leung, “This Quintessence of Dust”
Laurel Nakanishi, “88 Temples”
Jane Molinary, “The Storm That’s Always Happening to Everyone”
Brad Modlin, “A Game of Owaré”
T. Stores, “White Out”
Karen Gordon, “My Hair Is the Problem”
Michael Reid Busk, “September 11: Green and White”
Davis Webster, “Wyo.”
Kathryn Winograd, “Skyglow”
Hyewon Jin Grigoni, “Go Well”
Marin Sardy, “The Dragon at the Bottom of the Sea”
Jill Storey, “Safe Passage”
Essays with Commentary
Justin Lawrence Daugherty and Jill Talbot, “On Place, an Instruction”
Jill Talbot and Justin Lawrence Daugherty, “Place Is Heavy in Us: Commentary on ‘On Place, an Instruction’”
Writer as Reader
Mary Swander, “The Marginal World”
Alexis Paige, “Marrying the Personal and the Political”
Kate Carroll de Gutes, “Small Press, Big Impact: A Roundup of Small, Independent, and University Presses that Publish Creative Nonfiction”
Penny Guisinger, “Flying into Flagstaff, Listening to the Heart”
Holly Welker, “Good Human Animals Make a Good Family”
Patrick Madden, “The Indomitable Max”
Wilfredo Pascual, “Terminus” (Contest runner-up)
Cherise Morris, “blk girls x-ing”
Jen Palmares Meadows, “Otolith”
Isaac Anderson, “Before Green”
Will Jennings, “Such as Ground, So Close to Air”
Nina Boutsikaris, “This One Long Winter”
Anna Louise Peterson, “My Undoing”
A. Sandosharaj, “Hot Dog Curry”
TaraShea Nesbit, “Paper Nests”
Margot Anne Kelley, “Earthbound”
Cameron Kenny, “Just a Teardown Anyway”
Ruth Gila Berger, “The Skin Changes Quickly”
Essay and Commentary
Bruce Ballenger, “Return to the Typewriter”
Bruce Ballenger, “The Gestalt of Revision: Commentary on ‘Return to the Typewriter’”
Writer as Reader
181 Ryan Van Meter, “Safekeeping”
Mary Cappello and Patrick Madden, “Inter-Review”
Renée E. D’Aoust, “The Life-Affirming Essay”
DeWitt Henry, “Sacred Viewing”
Ned Stuckey-French, “Lifeboat”
Ira Sukrungruang, “Yummy”
Micah Ling, “I Imagine Blood”
Ember Johnson, “Dissolution”
Leslie Maxwell, “Some May Be Infi nite”
Kevin Honold, “Spring Arrives in the Gobi”
Chauna Craig, “States of Emergency”
S. Isabel Choi, “The Natural Order of Things”
Kerry Muir, “Toxic Malibu: An Ode”
Qinglan Wang, “Homeloss”
Jennifer Rose, “Buff alo, 1971”
JP Hyzy, “Taxonomy”
Sandell Morse, “Brown Leather Satchel”
Rosanna N. Henderson, “Firewood”
Writer as Reader
David Hamilton, “A Certain Arc”
Dale Rigby, “On Rimrocking Right”
On the Lyric Essay
Desirae Matherly, “Prose, Essay, Lyric”
Travis Scholl, “Reading Lyric: Essay and Archive”
Beth Peterson, “The Lyric Invitation”
Kathleen Livingston, “The Poetics of Leaving a Place”
Bob Cowser, Jr., “The Act and Practice of Love”
Anne Panning and Ned Stuckey-French, “Criminal: A Conversation & Review”
Winner, 2017 Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize
Sue D. Burton, “Box Set”
Melissa Stephenson, “Attachment Therapy”
Victor Yang, “Sardine Parties”
Michaela Hansen, “Goats”
Anne Liu Kellor, “Popo”
Joey Franklin, “Not in My Backyard”
Alysia Sawchyn, “Dog Brain”
Melissa Ferrone, “Whale Fall”
Jody L. Keisner, “The Maternal Lizard Brain”
Kristin Collier, “Emily in the Ocean”
Amy Zimmerman, “Don’t Fucking Touch Me”
Katie Karnehm-Esh, “What Waiting Looks Like”
Sara Greenslit, “What’s Not There”
Essay and Commentary
Laura Jones, “My Life in Movies”
Laura Jones, “Commentary on the Graphic Memoir”
Writer as Reader
Julene Bair, “So Slight a Thing as a Word: Reflections on Marilynne Robinson”
Renée E. D’Aoust, “Alpine Heart” (Review of Alpine Apprentice: A Memoir, by Sarah Gorham)
Anita Darcel Taylor, “She Finally Gets Her Close-Up” (Review of A Mother’s Tale, by Phillip Lopate)
Ned Stuckey-French, “A Mind Thinking” (Reviews of Epistolophilia: Writing the Life Ona Šimaitė, by Julija Šukys and Siberian Exile: Blood, War, and a Granddaughter’s Reckoning,
by Julija Šukys
In this study, Christian Vandendorpe examines how digital media and the Internet have changed the process of reading and writing, significantly altering our approaches toward research and reading, our assumptions about audience and response, and our theories of memory, legibility, and context. Reflecting on the full history of the written word, Vandendorpe provides a clear overview of how materiality makes a difference in the creation and interpretation of texts. Looking to the future, reading and writing will continue to evolve based on the current, contested trends of universal digitization and accessibility.
Gandhi’s Printing Press
Isabel Hofmeyr Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress DS481.G3H53 2013 | Dewey Decimal 954.035092
When Gandhi as a young lawyer in South Africa began fashioning the tenets of his political philosophy, he was absorbed by a seemingly unrelated enterprise: creating a newspaper, Indian Opinion. In Gandhi’s Printing Press Isabel Hofmeyr provides an account of how this footnote to a career shaped the man who would become the world-changing Mahatma.
Many scholars have written about the white readers and patrons of the Harlem Renaissance, but during the period many black writers, publishers, and editors worked to foster a cadre of African American readers, or in the poet Sterling Brown's words, a "reading folk." Black newspapers featured columns that reviewed the latest African American fiction. Magazines held writing contests to urge black readers to participate in the literary culture. Through newspapers, journals, and anthologies, writers such as James Weldon Johnson, Jessie Fauset, and Gwendolyn Bennett spoke directly to their fellow African Americans to cultivate interest in literature and the intellectual tools for reading it.
In The Harlem Renaissance and the Idea of a New Negro Reader, Shawn Anthony Christian argues that print-based addresses to African Americans are a defining but understudied component of the Harlem Renaissance. Especially between 1919 and 1930, these writers promoted diverse racial representation as a characteristic of "good literature" both to exhibit black literacy and to foster black readership. Drawing on research from print culture studies, histories of racial uplift, and studies of modernism, Christian demonstrates the importance of this focus on the African American reader in influential periodicals such as The Crisis and celebrated anthologies such as The New Negro. Christian illustrates that the drive to develop and support black readers was central in the poetry, fiction, and drama of the era.
The Hatred of Literature
William Marx Harvard University Press, 2018 Library of Congress PN45.M387313 2018 | Dewey Decimal 801.9
For 2,500 years literature has been condemned in the name of authority, truth, morality and society. But in making explicit what a society expects from literature, anti-literary discourse paradoxically asserts the validity of what it wishes to deny. The threat to literature’s continued existence, William Marx writes, is not hatred but indifference.
Multilingual literature defies simple translation. Beginning with this insight, Brian Lennon examines the resistance multilingual literature offers to book publication itself. In readings of G. V. Desani’s All about H. Hatterr, Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, Christine Brooke-Rose’s Between, Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation, Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s Mutterzunge, and Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul, among other works, Lennon shows how nationalized literary print culture inverts the values of a transnational age, reminding us that works of literature are, above all, objects in motion.
Looking closely at the limit of both multilingual literary expression and the literary journalism, criticism, and scholarship that comments on multilingual work, In Babel’s Shadow presents a critical reflection on the fate of literature in a world gripped by the crisis of globalization.
By producing literature in nontraditional forms -- books made of cardboard trash, posters in subway stations, miniature shopping bags, digital publications, and even children's toys -- Chileans have made and circulated literary objects in defiance of state censorship and independent of capitalist definitions of value. In The Labor of Literature Jane D. Griffin studies amateur and noncommercial forms of literary production in Chile that originated in response to authoritarian state politics and have gained momentum throughout the postdictatorship period. She argues that such forms advance a model of cultural democracy that differs from and sometimes contradicts the model endorsed by the state and the market.
By examining alternative literary publications, Griffin recasts the seventeen-year Pinochet dictatorship as a time of editorial experimentation despite widespread cultural oppression and shows how grassroots cultural activism has challenged government-approved corporate publishing models throughout the postdictatorship period. Griffin's work also points to the growing importance of autogestión, or do-it-yourself cultural production, where individuals combine artisanal forms with new technologies to make and share creative work on a global scale.
To be a writer, Amitava Kumar says, is to be an observer. The twenty-six essays in Lunch with a Bigot are Kumar's observations of the world put into words. A mix of memoir, reportage, and criticism, the essays include encounters with writers Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy, discussions on the craft of writing, and a portrait of the struggles of a Bollywood actor. The title essay is Kumar's account of his visit to a member of an ultra-right Hindu organization who put him on a hit-list. In these and other essays, Kumar tells a broader story of immigration, change, and a shift to a more globalized existence, all the while demonstrating how he practices being a writer in the world.
This book makes the argument that Machado de Assis, hailed as one of Latin American literature’s greatest writers, was also a major theoretician of the modern novel form. Steeped in the works of Western literature and an imaginative reader of French Symbolist poetry, Machado creates, between 1880 and 1908, a “new narrative,” one that will presage the groundbreaking theories of Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure by showing how even the language of narrative cannot escape being elusive and ambiguous in terms of meaning. It is from this discovery about the nature of language as a self-referential semiotic system that Machado crafts his “new narrative.” Long celebrated in Brazil as a dazzlingly original writer, Machado has struggled to gain respect and attention outside the Luso-Brazilian ken. He is the epitome of the “outsider” or “marginal,” the iconoclastic and wildly innovative genius who hails from a culture rarely studied in the Western literary hierarchy and so consigned to the status of “eccentric.” Had the Brazilian master written not in Portuguese but English, French, or German, he would today be regarded as one of the true exemplars of the modern novel, in expression as well as in theory.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
Does literature need the book? With electronic texts and reading devices growing increasingly popular, the codex is no longer the default format of fiction. Yet as Alexander Starre shows in Metamedia, American literature has rediscovered the book as an artistic medium after the first e-book hype in the late 1990s. By fusing narrative and design, a number of “bibliographic” writers have created reflexive fictions—metamedia—that invite us to read printed formats in new ways. Their work challenges ingrained theories and beliefs about literary communication and its connections to technology and materiality. Metamedia explores the book as a medium that matters and introduces innovative critical concepts to better grasp its narrative significance.
Combining sustained textual analysis with impulses from the fields of book history, media studies, and systems theory, Starre explains the aesthetics and the cultural work of complex material fictions, such as Mark Z.Danielewski’s House of Leaves (2000), Chip Kidd’s The Cheese Monkeys (2001), Salvador Plascencia’s The People of Paper (2005), Reif Larsen’s The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet (2009), and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes (2010). He also broadens his analysis beyond the genre of the novel in an extensive account of the influential literary magazine McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and its founder, Dave Eggers.
For this millennial generation of writers and publishers, the computer was never a threat to print culture, but a powerful tool to make better books. In careful close readings, Starre puts typefaces, layouts, and cover designs on the map of literary criticism. At the same time, the book steers clear of bibliophile nostalgia and technological euphoria as it follows writers, designers, and publishers in the process of shaping the surprising history of literary bookmaking after digitization.
As a young writer with neither profession nor money, William Wordsworth committed himself to a career as a poet, embracing what he believed was his destiny. But even the “giant Wordsworth,” as his friend and collaborator Samuel Taylor Coleridge called him, had his doubts. In Myself and Some Other Being, Daniel Robinson presents a young Wordsworth, as ambitious and insecure as any writer starting out, who was trying to prove to himself that he could become the great poet he desired to be and that Coleridge, equally brilliant and insecure, believed he already was.
Myself and Some Other Being is the story of Wordsworth becoming Wordsworth by writing the fragments and drafts of what would eventually become The Prelude, an autobiographical epic poem addressed to Coleridge that he hid from the public and was only published after his death in 1850. Feeling pressured to write the greatest epic poem of all time, a task set for him by Coleridge, Wordsworth feared that he was not up to the challenge and instead looked inside himself for memories and materials that he might make into poetry using the power of his imagination. What he found there was another Wordsworth—not exactly the memory of his younger self but rather “some other being” that he could adapt for an innovative kind of life-writing that he hoped would justify his writing life. By writing about himself and that other being, Wordsworth created an innovative autobiographical epic of becoming that is the masterpiece he believed he had failed to write.
In focusing on this young, ambitious, yet insecure Wordsworth struggling to find his place among other writers, Robinson ably demonstrates how The Prelude may serve as a provocative, instructive, and inspirational rumination on the writing of one’s own life. Concentrating on the process of Wordsworth’s endless revisions, the real literary business of creativity, Robinson puts Wordsworth forward as a model and inspiration for the next generation of writers.
In The Nature of the Book, a tour de force of cultural history, Adrian Johns constructs an entirely original and vivid picture of print culture and its many arenas—commercial, intellectual, political, and individual.
"A compelling exposition of how authors, printers, booksellers and readers competed for power over the printed page. . . . The richness of Mr. Johns's book lies in the splendid detail he has collected to describe the world of books in the first two centuries after the printing press arrived in England."—Alberto Manguel, Washington Times
"[A] mammoth and stimulating account of the place of print in the history of knowledge. . . . Johns has written a tremendously learned primer."—D. Graham Burnett, New Republic
"A detailed, engrossing, and genuinely eye-opening account of the formative stages of the print culture. . . . This is scholarship at its best."—Merle Rubin, Christian Science Monitor
"The most lucid and persuasive account of the new kind of knowledge produced by print. . . . A work to rank alongside McLuhan."—John Sutherland, The Independent
"Entertainingly written. . . . The most comprehensive account available . . . well documented and engaging."—Ian Maclean, Times Literary Supplement
The Nearest Thing to Life
James Wood Brandeis University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PR55.W55A3 2015 | Dewey Decimal 801.95092
In this remarkable blend of memoir and criticism, James Wood, the noted contributor to the New Yorker, has written a master class on the connections between fiction and life. He argues that of all the arts, fiction has a unique ability to describe the shape of our lives and to rescue the texture of those lives from death and historical oblivion. The act of reading is understood here as the most sacred and personal of activities, and there are brilliant discussions of individual works—among others, Chekhov’s story “The Kiss,” The Emigrants, by W. G. Sebald, and The Blue Flower, by Penelope Fitzgerald. Wood reveals his own intimate relationship with the written word: we see the development of a boy from the provinces growing up in a charged Christian environment, the secret joy of his childhood reading, the links he draws between reading and blasphemy, or between literature and music. The final section discusses fiction in the context of exile and homelessness. More than a tightly argued little book by a man commonly regarded as our finest living critic, The Nearest Thing to Life is an exhilarating personal account that reflects on, and embodies, the fruitful conspiracy between reader and writer (and critic), and asks us to reconsider everything that is at stake when we read and write fiction.
In Neatness Counts, Kevin Kopelson reflects on the poetics of the desk—rolltop or bureau-plat, cluttered or bare, the nestlike desk, the schematic desk, the dramatic desk, the dramatic lack of any such furniture. Exploring the topography of literary creation by way of the topography of work space, Kopelson, one of today’s most important critics, offers a series of meditations on how orderliness, chaos, and other physical states correspond with both the exhilaration of production and the desperation of writer's block.Focusing on the poet Elizabeth Bishop, the novelist Marcel Proust, the critic Roland Barthes, the playwright Tom Stoppard, and the travel writer Bruce Chatwin, Neatness Counts is at once critical and creative, examining how various writers' work habits relate to their published work. Kopelson also considers desks of his own—one that had belonged to an older brother, one he borrowed from a messy friend, one now shared with a partner. And by pursuing these two lines of inquiry to their unlikely but enlightening conclusions, Kopelson both fabricates a virtual library of literary insight and commemorates an era in which the term “desktop” didn’t denote one’s computer screen.Kevin Kopelson is professor of English at the University of Iowa. His books include, most recently, The Queer Afterlife of Vaslav Nijinsky.
America is a nation making itself up as it goes along - a story of discovery and invention unfolding in speeches and images, letters and poetry, unprecedented feats of scholarship and imagination. In more than two hundred original essays, A New Literary History of America brings together the nation's many voices. Please visit www.newliteraryhistory.com for more information.
Friedrich Nietzsche was immensely influential and, counter to most expectations, also very well read. An essential new reference tool for those interested in his thinking, Nietzsche’s Philosophical Context identifies the chronology and huge range of philosophical books that engaged him. Rigorously examining the scope of this reading, Thomas H. Brobjer consulted over two thousand volumes in Nietzsche’s personal library, as well as his book bills, library records, journals, letters, and publications. This meticulous investigation also considers many of the annotations in his books. In arguing that Nietzsche’s reading often constituted the starting point for, or counterpoint to, much of his own thinking and writing, Brobjer’s study provides scholars with fresh insight into how Nietzsche worked and thought; to which questions and thinkers he responded; and by which of them he was influenced. The result is a new and much more contextual understanding of Nietzsche's life and thinking.
Patricia Meyer Spacks Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress Z1003.2.S63 2011 | Dewey Decimal 028.9
After retiring from teaching literature, Patricia Meyer Spacks embarked on a year-long project of rereading dozens of novels: childhood favorites, young adult fiction, canonical works she didn’t like, guilty pleasures. On Rereading records the surprising, fascinating results of her personal experiment and raises a number of intriguing questions.
Brian Boyd explains why we tell stories and how our minds are shaped to understand them. After considering art as adaptation, Boyd examines Homer's Odyssey and Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears a Who! demonstrating how an evolutionary lens can offer new understanding and appreciation of specific works. Published for the bicentenary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species, Boyd's study embraces a Darwinian view of human nature and art, and offers a credo for a new humanism.
The first book of its kind, Our Caribbean is an anthology of lesbian and gay writing from across the Antilles. The author and activist Thomas Glave has gathered outstanding fiction, nonfiction, memoir, and poetry by little-known writers together with selections by internationally celebrated figures such as José Alcántara Almánzar, Reinaldo Arenas, Dionne Brand, Michelle Cliff, Audre Lorde, Achy Obejas, and Assotto Saint. The result is an unprecedented literary conversation on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered experiences throughout the Caribbean and its far-flung diaspora. Many selections were originally published in Spanish, Dutch, or creole languages; some are translated into English here for the first time.
The thirty-seven authors hail from the Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Puerto Rico, St. Vincent, St. Kitts, Suriname, and Trinidad. Many have lived outside the Caribbean, and their writing depicts histories of voluntary migration as well as exile from repressive governments, communities, and families. Many pieces have a political urgency that reflects their authors’ work as activists, teachers, community organizers, and performers. Desire commingles with ostracism and alienation throughout: in the evocative portrayals of same-sex love and longing, and in the selections addressing religion, family, race, and class. From the poem “Saturday Night in San Juan with the Right Sailors” to the poignant narrative “We Came All the Way from Cuba So You Could Dress Like This?” to an eloquent call for the embrace of difference that appeared in the Nassau Daily Tribune on the eve of an anti-gay protest, Our Caribbean is a brave and necessary book.
Contributors: José Alcántara Almánzar, Aldo Alvarez, Reinaldo Arenas, Rane Arroyo, Jesús J. Barquet, Marilyn Bobes, Dionne Brand, Timothy S. Chin, Michelle Cliff, Wesley E. A. Crichlow, Mabel Rodríguez Cuesta, Ochy Curiel, Faizal Deen, Pedro de Jesús, R. Erica Doyle, Thomas Glave, Rosamond S. King, Helen Klonaris, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, Audre Lorde, Shani Mootoo, Anton Nimblett, Achy Obejas, Leonardo Padura Fuentes, Virgilio Piñera, Patricia Powell, Kevin Everod Quashie, Juanita Ramos, Colin Robinson, Assotto Saint, Andrew Salkey, Lawrence Scott, Makeda Silvera, H. Nigel Thomas, Rinaldo Walcott, Gloria Wekker, Lawson Williams
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.
For a half century, the American intellectual Fredric Jameson has been a driving force in literary and cultural theory. In Periodizing Jameson, Phillip E. Wegner builds upon Jameson’s unique dialectical method to demonstrate the value of Jameson’s tools—periodization, the fourfold hermeneutic, and the Greimasian semiotic square, among others—and to develop virtuoso readings of Jameson’s own work and the history of the contemporary American university in which it unfolds.
Wegner shows how Jameson’s work intervenes in particular social, cultural, and political situations, using his scholarship both to develop original explorations of nineteenth-century fiction, popular films, and other promiment theorists, and to examine the changing fortunes of theory itself. In this way, Periodizing Jameson casts new light on the potential of and challenges to humanist intellectual work in the present.
In the early 1800s, books were largely unillustrated. By the 1830s and 1840s, however, innovations in wood- and steel-engraving techniques changed how Victorian readers consumed and conceptualized fiction. A new type of novel was born, often published in serial form, one that melded text and image as partners in meaning-making.
These illustrated serial novels offered Victorians a reading experience that was both verbal and visual, based on complex effects of flash-forward and flashback as the placement of illustrations revealed or recalled significant story elements. Victorians’ experience of what are now canonical novels thus differed markedly from that of modern readers, who are accustomed to reading single volumes with minimal illustration. Even if modern editions do reproduce illustrations, these do not appear as originally laid out. Modern readers therefore lose a crucial aspect of how Victorians understood plot—as a story delivered in both words and images, over time, and with illustrations playing a key role.
In The Plot Thickens, Mary Elizabeth Leighton and Lisa Surridge uncover this overlooked narrative role of illustrations within Victorian serial fiction. They reveal the intricacy and richness of the form and push us to reconsider our notions of illustration, visual culture, narration, and reading practices in nineteenth-century Britain.
In Poetry, Pictures, and Popular Publishing eminent Rossetti scholar LorraineJanzen Kooistra demonstrates the cultural centrality of a neglected artifact: the Victorian illustrated gift book. Turning a critical lens on “drawing-room books” as both material objects and historical events, Kooistra reveals how the gift book’s visual/verbal form mediated “high” and popular art as well as book and periodical publication.
A composite text produced by many makers, the poetic gift book was designed for domestic space and a female audience; its mode of publication marks a significant moment in the history of authorship, reading, and publishing. With rigorous attention to the gift book’s aesthetic and ideological features, Kooistra analyzes the contributions of poets, artists, engravers, publishers, and readers and shows how its material form moved poetry into popular culture. Drawing on archival and periodical research, she offers new readings of Eliza Cook, Adelaide Procter, and Jean Ingelow and shows the transatlantic reach of their verses. Boldly re-situating Tennyson’s works within the gift-book economy he dominated, Kooistra demonstrates how the conditions of corporate authorship shaped the production and receptionof the laureate’s verses at the peak of his popularity.
Poetry, Pictures, and Popular Publishing changes the map of poetry’s place—in all its senses—in Victorian everyday life and consumer culture.
Finalist for the 2014 Melville J. Herskovits Award from the African Studies Association.
Between the 1880s and the 1940s, the region known as British West Africa became a dynamic zone of literary creativity and textual experimentation. African-owned newspapers offered local writers numerous opportunities to contribute material for publication, and editors repeatedly defined the press as a vehicle to host public debates rather than simply as an organ to disseminate news or editorial ideology. Literate locals responded with great zeal, and in increasing numbers as the twentieth century progressed, they sent in letters, articles, fiction, and poetry for publication in English- and African-language newspapers.
The Power to Name offers a rich cultural history of this phenomenon, examining the wide array of anonymous and pseudonymous writing practices to be found in African-owned newspapers between the 1880s and the 1940s, and the rise of celebrity journalism in the period of anticolonial nationalism. Stephanie Newell has produced an account of colonial West Africa that skillfully shows the ways in which colonized subjects used pseudonyms and anonymity to alter and play with colonial power and constructions of African identity.
The Practical Past
Hayden White Northwestern University Press, 2014 Library of Congress PN50.W486 2014 | Dewey Decimal 809.93358
Hayden White borrows the title for The Practical Past from philosopher Michael Oakeshott, who used the term to describe the accessible material and literary-artistic artifacts that individuals and institutions draw on for guidance in quotidian affairs. The Practical Past, then, forms both a summa of White’s work to be drawn upon and a new direction in his thinking about the writing of history.
White’s monumental Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (1973) challenged many of the commonplaces of professional historical writing and wider assumptions about the ontology of history itself. It formed the basis of his argument that we can never recover “what actually happened”in the past and cannot really access even material culture in context. Forty years on, White sees “professional history" as falling prey to narrow specialization, and he calls upon historians to take seriously the practical past of explicitly “artistic” works, such as novels and dramas, and literary theorists likewise to engage historians.
The Printed Reader explores the transformative power of reading in the eighteenth century, and how this was expressed in the fascination with Don Quixote and in a proliferation of narratives about quixotic readers, readers who attempt to reproduce and embody their readings. Through intersecting readings of quixotic narratives, including work by Charlotte Lennox, Laurence Sterne, George Colman, Richard Graves, and Elizabeth Hamilton, Amelia Dale argues that literature was envisaged as imprinting—most crucially, in gendered terms—the reader’s mind, character, and body. The Printed Reader brings together key debates concerning quixotic narratives, print culture, sensibility, empiricism, book history, and the material text, connecting developments in print technology to gendered conceptualizations of quixotism. Tracing the meanings of quixotic readers’ bodies, The Printed Reader claims the social and political text that is the quixotic reader is structured by the experiential, affective, and sexual resonances of imprinting and impressions.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
Louise M. Rosenblatt’s award-winning work continues increasingly to be read in a wide range of academic fields—literary criticism, reading theory, aesthetics, composition, rhetoric, speech communication, and education. Her view of the reading transaction as a unique event involving reader and text at a particular time under particular circumstances rules out the dualistic emphasis of other theories on either the reader or the text as separate and static entities. The transactional concept accounts for the importance of factors such as gender, ethnicity, culture, and socioeconomic context. Essential reading for the specialist, this book is also well suited for courses in criticism, critical theory, rhetoric, and aesthetics.
Starting from the same nonfoundationalist premises, Rosenblatt avoids the extreme relativism of postmodern theories derived mainly from Continental sources. A deep understanding of the pragmatism of Dewey, James, and Peirce and of key issues in the social sciences is the basis for a view of language and the reading process that recognizes the potentialities for alternative interpretations and at the same time provides a rationale for the responsible reading of texts.
The book has been praised for its lucid explanation of the multidimensional character of the reading process—evoking, interpreting, and evaluating the work. The nonliterary (efferent) and the literary (aesthetic) are shown not to be opposites but to represent a continuum of reading behaviors. The author amply illustrates her theoretical points with interpretations of varied texts. The epilogue carries further her critique of rival contemporary theories.
During the Cold War, the editor of Time magazine declared, "A good citizen is a good reader." As postwar euphoria faded, a wide variety of Americans turned to reading to understand their place in the changing world. Yet, what did it mean to be a good reader? And how did reading make you a good citizen?
In Reading America, Kristin L. Matthews puts into conversation a range of political, educational, popular, and touchstone literary texts to demonstrate how Americans from across the political spectrum -- including "great works" proponents, New Critics, civil rights leaders, postmodern theorists, neoconservatives, and multiculturalists -- celebrated particular texts and advocated particular interpretive methods as they worked to make their vision of "America" a reality. She situates the fiction of J. D. Salinger, Ralph Ellison, Thomas Pynchon, John Barth, and Maxine Hong Kingston within these debates, illustrating how Cold War literature was not just an object of but also a vested participant in postwar efforts to define good reading and citizenship.
Why do Americans read contemporary fiction? This question seems simple, but is it? Do Americans read for the purpose of aesthetic appreciation? To satisfy their own insatiable intellectual curiosities? While other forms of media have come to monopolize consumers’ leisure time, in the past two decades book clubs have proliferated, Amazon has sponsored thriving online discussions, Oprah Winfrey has inspired millions of viewers to read both contemporary works and classics, and novels have retained their devoted following within middlebrow communities.
In Reading as Therapy, Timothy Aubry argues that contemporary fiction serves primarily as a therapeutic tool for lonely, dissatisfied middle-class American readers, one that validates their own private dysfunctions while supporting elusive communities of strangers unified by shared feelings. Aubry persuasively makes the case that contemporary literature’s persistent appeal depends upon its capacity to perform a therapeutic function.
Aubry traces the growth and proliferation of psychological concepts focused on the subjective interior within mainstream, middle-class society and the impact this has had on contemporary fiction. The prevailing tendency among academic critics has been to decry the personal emphasis of contemporary fiction as complicit with the rise of a narcissistic culture, the ascendency of liberal individualism, and the breakdown of public life. Reading as Therapy, by contrast, underscores the varied ideological effects that therapeutic culture can foster.
To uncover the many unpredictable ways in which contemporary literature answers the psychological needs of its readers, Aubry considers several different venues of reader-response—including Oprah’s Book Club and Amazon customer reviews—the promotional strategies of publishing houses, and a variety of contemporary texts, ranging from Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner to Anita Shreve’s The Pilot’s Wife to David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. He concludes that, in the face of an atomistic social landscape, contemporary fiction gives readers a therapeutic vocabulary that both reinforces the private sphere and creates surprising forms of sympathy and solidarity among strangers.
Besides familiar and now-commonplace tasks that computers do all the time, what else are they capable of? Stephen Ramsay's intriguing study of computational text analysis examines how computers can be used as "reading machines" to open up entirely new possibilities for literary critics. Computer-based text analysis has been employed for the past several decades as a way of searching, collating, and indexing texts. Despite this, the digital revolution has not penetrated the core activity of literary studies: interpretive analysis of written texts.
Computers can handle vast amounts of data, allowing for the comparison of texts in ways that were previously too overwhelming for individuals, but they may also assist in enhancing the entirely necessary role of subjectivity in critical interpretation. Reading Machines discusses the importance of this new form of text analysis conducted with the assistance of computers. Ramsay suggests that the rigidity of computation can be enlisted in the project of intuition, subjectivity, and play.
Reading With Lincoln
Robert Bray Southern Illinois University Press, 2010 Library of Congress E457.2.B83 2010 | Dewey Decimal 973.7092
Through extensive reading and reflection, Abraham Lincoln fashioned a mind as powerfully intellectual and superlatively communicative as that of any other American political leader. Reading with Lincoln uncovers the how of Lincoln’s inspiring rise to greatness by connecting the content of his reading to the story of his life.
At the core of Lincoln’s success was his self-education, centered on his love of and appreciation for learning through books. From his early studies of grammar school handbooks and children’s classics to his interest in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the Bible during his White House years, what Lincoln read helped to define who he was as a person and as a politician. This unique study delves into the books, pamphlets, poetry, plays, and essays that influenced Lincoln’s thoughts and actions.
Exploring in great depth and detail those readings that inspired the sixteenth president, author Robert Bray follows Lincoln’s progress closely, from the young teen composing letters for illiterate friends and neighbors to the politician who keenly employed what he read to advance his agenda. Bray analyzes Lincoln’s radical period in New Salem, during which he came under the influence of Anglo-American and French Enlightenment thinkers such as Thomas Paine, C. F. Volney, and Voltaire, and he investigates Lincoln’s appreciation of nineteenth-century lyric poetry, which he both read and wrote. Bray considers Lincoln’s fascination with science, mathematics, political economics, liberal social philosophy, theology, and the Bible, and devotes special attention to Lincoln’s enjoyment of American humor. While striving to arrive at an understanding of the role each subject played in the development of this remarkable leader, Bray also examines the connections and intertextual relations between what Lincoln read and how he wrote and spoke.
This comprehensive and long-awaited book provides fresh insight into the self-made man from the wilderness of Illinois. Bray offers a new way to approach the mind of the political artist who used his natural talent, honed by years of rhetorical study and practice, to abolish slavery and end the Civil War.
In The Realistic Imagination, George Levine argues that the Victorian realists and the later modernists were in fact doing similar things in their fiction: they were trying to use language to get beyond language. Levine sees the history of the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century novel as a continuing process in which each generation of writers struggled to escape the grip of convention and attempted to create new language to express their particular sense of reality. As these attempts hardened into new conventions, they generated new attempts to break free.
This study of the learned book trade of the late Renaissance reveals how many features of today’s publishing world were in place even then. Beginning in Frankfurt, Maclean surveys the authors, publishers, censors, and sellers who operated in this fraught religious atmosphere and overheated market, and ends with the market’s decline in the 1620s.
Selected Book Reviews (CW13)
Eric Voegelin, Edited & Translated by Jodi Cockerill and Barry Cooper, & Intro by Jodi Cockerill University of Missouri Press, 2001
Over the course of his varied and distinguished academic life, Eric Voegelin was often called upon by review editors of scholarly journals as well as by editors in the popular press to examine, summarize, and critically assess the work of other scholars, of statesmen, and of men of affairs. The contents of the books Voegelin reviewed mirror his changing interests over the years, including questions of method, points of legal philosophy and jurisprudence, and issues of race, war, and the aftermath of war. Of course, he was frequently called upon as well to review standard texts and new editions and monographs across the full range of political science.
This collection of Voegelin's reviews amounts to a reflection in miniature of many of the problems Voegelin tackled in his essays, articles, and books from the 1920s until the 1950s, when, owing to the press of other business, he began to decline requests to review the work of others. Some of his reviews are little more than clinical summaries; others are analytic essays. A few are extended engagements with a text or a set of problems. Occasionally, particularly among the later reviews originally written in English, one finds flashes of Voegelin's legendary wit and a restrained impatience with the inadequate approaches or sheer incompetence of others. These book reviews will be of interest to all students and scholars of Eric Voegelin's work.
Seven Modes of Uncertainty
C. Namwali Serpell Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress PN3347.S47 2014 | Dewey Decimal 809.39353
Literature is uncertain. Literature is good for us. These two ideas are often taken for granted. But what is the relationship between literature's capacity to perplex and its ethical value? Seven Modes of Uncertainty contends that literary uncertainty is crucial to ethics because it pushes us beyond the limits of our experience.
Reading, David Mikics says, should not be drudgery, and not mere information-gathering or escape either, but a way to live life at a higher pitch. Slow Reading in a Hurried Age is a practical guide for anyone who yearns for a more meaningful, satisfying reading experience, as well as sharper reading skills and improved concentration.
Specters of Mother India tells the complex story of one episode that became the tipping point for an important historical transformation. The event at the center of the book is the massive international controversy that followed the 1927 publication of Mother India, an exposé written by the American journalist Katherine Mayo. Mother India provided graphic details of a variety of social ills in India, especially those related to the status of women and to the particular plight of the country’s child wives. According to Mayo, the roots of the social problems she chronicled lay in an irredeemable Hindu culture that rendered India unfit for political self-government. Mother India was reprinted many times in the United States, Great Britain, and India; it was translated into more than a dozen languages; and it was reviewed in virtually every major publication on five continents.
Sinha provides a rich historical narrative of the controversy surrounding Mother India, from the book’s publication through the passage in India of the Child Marriage Restraint Act in the closing months of 1929. She traces the unexpected trajectory of the controversy as critics acknowledged many of the book’s facts only to overturn its central premise. Where Mayo located blame for India’s social backwardness within the beliefs and practices of Hinduism, the critics laid it at the feet of the colonial state, which they charged with impeding necessary social reforms. As Sinha shows, the controversy became a catalyst for some far-reaching changes, including a reconfiguration of the relationship between the political and social spheres in colonial India and the coalescence of a collective identity for women.
Making and experiencing stories, remembering and retelling them is something we all do. We tell stories over meals, at the water cooler, and to both friends and strangers. But how do stories work? What is it about telling and listening to stories that unites us? And, more importantly, how do we change them-and how do they change us?
In The Story Is True, author, filmmaker, and photographer Bruce Jackson explores the ways we use the stories that become a central part of our public and private lives. He examines, as no one before has, how stories narrate and bring meaning to our lives, by describing and explaining how stories are made and used. The perspectives shared in this engaging book come from the tellers, writers, filmmakers, listeners, and watchers who create and consume stories.
Jackson writes about his family and friends, acquaintances and experiences, focusing on more than a dozen personal stories. From oral histories, such as conversations the author had with poet Steven Spender, to public stories, such as what happened when Bob Dylan "went electric" at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Jackson also investigates how "words can kill" showing how diction can be an administrator of death, as in Nazi extermination camps. And finally, he considers the way lies come to resemble truth, showing how the stories we tell, whether true or not, resemble truth to the teller.
Ultimately, The Story Is True is about the place of stories-fiction or real-and the impact they have on the lives of each one of us.
This volume features in-depth, oral interviews with eleven incarcerated women, each of whom offers a narrative of her life and her reading experiences within prison walls. The women share powerful stories about their complex and diverse efforts to negotiate difficult relationships, exercise agency in restrictive circumstances, and find meaning and beauty in the midst of pain. Their shared emphases on abuse, poverty, addiction, and mental illness illuminate the pathways that lead many women to prison and suggest possibilities for addressing the profound social problems that fuel crime.
Framing the narratives within an analytic introduction and reflective afterword, Megan Sweeney highlights the crucial intellectual work that the incarcerated women perform despite myriad restrictions on reading and education in U.S. prisons. These women use the limited reading materials available to them as sources of guidance and support and as tools for self-reflection and self-education. Through their creative engagements with books, the women learn to reframe their own life stories, situate their experiences in relation to broader social patterns, deepen their understanding of others, experiment with new ways of being, and maintain a sense of connection with their fellow citizens on both sides of the prison fence.
Depicted in popular films, television series, novels, poems, and countless media reports, Sylvia Plath's women readers have become nearly as legendary as Plath herself, in large part because the depictions are seldom kind. If one is to believe the narrative told by literary and popular culture, Plath's primary audience is a body of young, misguided women who uncritically -- even pathologically -- consume Plath's writing with no awareness of how they harm the author's reputation in the process.
Janet Badia investigates the evolution of this narrative, tracing its origins, exposing the gaps and elisions that have defined it, and identifying it as a bullying mythology whose roots lie in a long history of ungenerous, if not outright misogynistic, rhetoric about women readers that has gathered new energy from the backlash against contemporary feminism.
More than just an exposé of our cultural biases against women readers, Badia's research also reveals how this mythology has shaped the production, reception, and evaluation of Plath's body of writing, affecting everything from the Hughes family's management of Plath's writings to the direction of Plath scholarship today. Badia discusses a wide range of texts and issues whose significance has gone largely unnoticed, including the many book reviews that have been written about Plath's publications; films and television shows that depict young Plath readers; editorials and fan tributes written about Plath; and Ted and (daughter) Frieda Hughes's writings about Plath's estate and audience.
In this startling group memoir, four friends—black and white, gay and straight, immigrant and American-born—use Toni Morrison’s novels as a springboard for intimate and revealing conversations about the problems of everyday racism and living whole in times of uncertainty. Tackling everything from first love and Soul Train to police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, the authors take up what it means to read challenging literature collaboratively and to learn in public as an act of individual reckoning and social resistance.
Framing their book club around collective secrets, the group bears witness to how Morrison’s works and words can propel us forward while we sit with uncomfortable questions about race, gender, and identity. How do we make space for black vulnerability in the face of white supremacy and internalized self-loathing? How do historical novels speak to us now about the delicate seams that hold black minds and bodies together?
This slim and brilliant confessional offers a radical vision for book clubs as sites of self-discovery and communal healing. The Toni Morrison Book Club insists that we find ourselves in fiction and think of Morrison as a spiritual guide to our most difficult thoughts and ideas about American literature and life.
In 1495, the Spanish humanist Antonio de Nebrija published a Spanish-to-Latin dictionary that became a best seller. Over the next century it was revised dozens of times, in nine European cities. As these dictionaries made their way around the globe in this age of encounters, their lists of Spanish words became frameworks for dictionaries of non-Latin languages. What began as Spanish to Latin became Spanish to Arabic, French, English, Tuscan, Nahuatl, Mayan, Quechua, Aymara, Tagalog, and more.
Tracing the global influence of Nebrija's dictionary, Byron Ellsworth Hamann, in this interdisciplinary, deeply researched book, connects pagan Rome, Muslim Spain, Aztec Tenochtitlan, Elizabethan England, the Spanish Philippines, and beyond, revealing new connections in world history. The Translations of Nebrija re-creates the travels of people, books, and ideas throughout the early modern world and reveals the adaptability of Nebrija's text, tracing the ways heirs and pirate printers altered the dictionary in the decades after its first publication. It reveals how entries in various editions were expanded to accommodate new concepts, such as for indigenous languages in the Americas -- a process with profound implications for understanding pre-Hispanic art, architecture, and writing. It shows how words written in the margins of surviving dictionaries from the Americas shed light on the writing and researching of dictionaries across the early modern world.
Exploring words and the dictionaries that made sense of them, this book charts new global connections and challenges many assumptions about the early modern world.
What does it mean to read one nation's literature in another language? The considerable popularity of Russian literature in the English-speaking world rests almost entirely upon translations. In The Translator and the Text, Rachel May analyzes Russian literature in English translation, seeing it less as a substitute for the original works than as a subset of English literature, with its own cultural, stylistic, and narrative traditions.
Today’s critical establishment assumes that sentimentalism is an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literary mode that all but disappeared by the twentieth century. In this book, Jennifer Williamson argues that sentimentalism is alive and well in the modern era. By examining working-class literature that adopts the rhetoric of “feeling right” in order to promote a proletarian or humanist ideology as well as neo-slave narratives that wrestle with the legacy of slavery and cultural definitions of African American families, she explores the ways contemporary authors engage with familiar sentimental clichés and ideals.
Williamson covers new ground by examining authors who are not generally read for their sentimental narrative practices, considering the proletarian novels of Grace Lumpkin, Josephine Johnson, and John Steinbeck alongside neo-slave narratives written by Margaret Walker, Octavia Butler, and Toni Morrison. Through careful close readings, Williamson argues that the appropriation of sentimental modes enables both sympathetic thought and systemic action in the proletarian and neo-slave novels under discussion. She contrasts appropriations that facilitate such cultural work with those that do not, including Kathryn Stockett’s novel and film The Help. The book outlines how sentimentalism remains a viable and important means of promoting social justice while simultaneously recognizing and exploring how sentimentality can further white privilege.
Sentimentalism is not only alive in the twentieth century. It is a flourishing rhetorical practice among a range of twentieth-century authors who use sentimental tactics in order to appeal to their readers about a range of social justice issues. This book demonstrates that at stake in their appeals is who is inside and outside of the American family and nation.
Histories of the book often move straight from the codex to the digital screen. Left out is nearly 150 years of audio recordings. Matthew Rubery uncovers this story, from Edison to today’s billion-dollar audiobook industry, and breaks from convention by treating audiobooks as a distinctive art form that has profoundly influenced the way we read.
When Novels Were Books
Jordan Alexander Stein Harvard University Press, 2019 Library of Congress PN3491.S68 2020 | Dewey Decimal 808.3
The novel was born religious, alongside Protestant texts produced in the same format by the same publishers. Novels borrowed features of these texts but over the years distinguished themselves, becoming the genre we know today. Jordan Alexander Stein traces this history, showing how the physical object of the book shaped the stories it contained.
The American nineteenth century witnessed a media explosion unprecedented in human history. New communications technologies seemed to be everywhere, offering opportunities and threats that seem powerfully familiar to us as we experience today’s digital revolution. Walt Whitman’s poetry reveled in the potentials of his time: “See, the many-cylinder’d steam printing-press,” he wrote, “See, the electric telegraph, stretching across the Continent, from the Western Sea to Manhattan.”
Still, as the budding poet learned, books neither sell themselves nor move themselves: without an efficient set of connections to get books to readers, the democratic media-saturated future Whitman imagined would have remained warehoused. Whitman’s works sometimes ran through the “many-cylinder’d steam printing press” and were carried in bulk on “the strong and quick locomotive.” Yet during his career, his publications did not follow a progressive path toward mass production and distribution. Even at the end of his life, in the 1890s as his fame was growing, the poet was selling copies of his latest works by hand to visitors at his small house in Camden, New Jersey. Mass media and centralization were only one part of the rich media world that Whitman embraced.
Whitman’s Drift asks how the many options for distributing books and newspapers shaped the way writers wrote and readers read. Writers like Whitman spoke to the imagination inspired by media transformations by calling attention to connectedness, to how literature not only moves us emotionally, but moves around in the world among people and places. Studying that literature and how it circulated can help us understand not just how to read Whitman’s works and times, but how to understand what is happening to our imaginations now, in the midst of the twenty-first century media explosion.
Providing an exhaustive compendium of publications by and citations about Alabama-born writer William March, William March:AnAnnotated Checklist offers an invaluable resource that traces in meticulous detail the arc of March’s writing, the popular and critical reception of his books and novels, and the abundant scholarship and criticism about March and his oeuvre.
This deeply researched reference includes both primary materials, an exhaustive checklist of the forms and editions of each of March’s works, and secondary materials, which include plays and films adapted from March’s writing, biographical and critical articles, doctoral dissertations, and contemporary reviews of March’s work.
The reissue in 2015 of the novels in his Pearl County series—Come in at the Door, The Tallons, and The Looking-Glass—is part of a fresh wave of interest in March, one of the most influential American writers from the mid-1930s until his death in 1954.
Women in 16th- and 17th-century Britain read, annotated, circulated, inventoried, cherished, criticized, prescribed, and proscribed books in various historically distinctive ways. Yet, unlike that of their male counterparts, the study of women’s reading practices and book ownership has been an elusive and largely overlooked field.
In thirteen probing essays, Women’s Bookscapesin Early Modern Britain brings together the work of internationally renowned scholars investigating key questions about early modern British women’s figurative, material, and cultural relationships with books. What constitutes evidence of women’s readerly engagement? How did women use books to achieve personal, political, religious, literary, economic, social, familial, or communal goals? How does new evidence of women’s libraries and book usage challenge received ideas about gender in relation to knowledge, education, confessional affiliations, family ties, and sociability? How do digital tools offer new possibilities for the recovery of information on early modern women readers?
The volume’s three-part structure highlights case studies of individual readers and their libraries; analyses of readers and readership in the context of their interpretive communities; and new types of scholarly evidence—lists of confiscated books and convent rules, for example—as well as new methodologies and technologies for ongoing research. These essays dismantle binaries of private and public; reading and writing; female and male literary engagement and production; and ownership and authorship.
Interdisciplinary, timely, cohesive, and concise, this collection’s fresh, revisionary approaches represent substantial contributions to scholarship in early modern material culture; book history and print culture; women’s literary and cultural history; library studies; and reading and collecting practices more generally.
Words Unbound draws on Milton Burke’s thirty years of teaching experience to help educators bring Inferno alive for today’s young reader. In a conversational, “colleague-to-colleague” style, Burke shares the interpretations, questions, and exercises he found effective in his high-school classroom, emphasizing group discussion to help students, no matter their religious or philosophical moorings, engage meaningfully with the notoriously difficult text.
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.
A deft blend of autobiography, history, and criticism, Writing Was Everything emerges as a reaffirmation of literature in an age of deconstruction and critical dogma. It stands as clear testimony to Kazin's belief that "literature is not theory but, at best, the value we can give to our experience, which in our century has been and remains beyond the imagination of mankind."