The Baroque Night
Spencer Golub Northwestern University Press, 2018 Library of Congress PN1995.9.F54G65 2018 | Dewey Decimal 791.43655
In The Baroque Night, authorial idiosyncrasy hybridizes the concepts of "baroque" and "noir" across the fields of film, theater, literature, and philosophy, arguing for mental function as form, as an impossible object, a container in which the container itself is the thing contained. The book is an experiment in thinking difference and thinking differently, an ethics of otherness and the abstract. Spencer Golub inverts the unreality of the real and the reality of fiction, exposing the tropes of memory, identity, and authenticity as a scenic route through life that ultimately blocks the view.
The Baroque Night draws upon materials that have not previously been included in studies of either the baroque or film noir, while offering new perspectives on other, more familiar sources. Leibniz's concepts of the monad and compossibility provide organizing thought models, and death, fear, and mental illness cast their anamorphic images across surfaces that are deeper and closer than they at first appear. Key characters and situations in the book derive from the works of Alfred Hitchcock, Henri-Georges Clozot, Jean-Pierre Melville, Oscar Wilde, Georges Perec, Patricia Highsmith, William Shakespeare, Jean Racine, Pierre Corneille, and Arthur Conan Doyle, among many others.
This is virtuality and reality for the phobic, making it a fascinating and viable document of and episteme for the anxious age in which we (always) find ourselves living, though not yet fully alive. This performance of suspect evidence speaks to and in the ways we are organically inauthentic, the cause of our own causality and our own worst eyewitnesses to all that appears and disappears in space and time.
A probing and holistic meditation on the key question: Why do we continue to make art, and thus beauty, out of war?
Beautiful War: Studies in a Dreadful Fascination is a wide-ranging exploration of armed conflict as depicted in art that illustrates the constant presence of war in our everyday lives. Philip D. Beidler investigates the unending assimilation and pervasive presence of the idea of war in popular culture, the impulses behind the making of art out of war, and the unending and debatably aimless trajectories of war itself.
Beidler’s critical scope spans from Shakespeare’s plays, through the Victorian battle paintings of Lady Butler, into the post-World War I writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Virginia Woolf, and up to twenty-first-century films such as The Hurt Locker and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. As these works of art have become ubiquitous in contemporary culture, the many faces of war clearly spill over into our art and media, and Beidler argues that these portrayals in turn shift the perception of war from a savage truth to a concept.
Beautiful War argues that the representation of war in the arts has always been, and continues to be, an incredibly powerful force. Incorporating painting, music, photography, literature, and film, Beidler traces a disturbing but fundamental truth: that war has always provided an aesthetic inspiration while serving ends as various and complex as ideological or geopolitical history, public memory, and mass entertainment.
Beautiful War is a bold and vivid account of the role of war and military conflict as a subject of art that offers much of value to literary and cultural critics, historians, veterans, students of art history and communication studies, and those interested in expanding their understanding of art and media’s influence on contemporary values and memories of the past.
As animals recede from our world, what tale is being told by literature’s creatures? Behold an Animal: Four Exorbitant Readings examines incongruous animals in the works of four major contemporary French writers: an airborne horse in a novel by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, extinct orangutans in Éric Chevillard, stray dogs in Marie NDiaye, vanishing (bits of) hedgehogs in Marie Darrieussecq. Resisting naturalist assumptions that an animal in a story is simply—literally or metaphorically—an animal, Thangam Ravindranathan understands it rather as the location of something missing. The animal is a lure: an unfinished figure fleeing the frame, crossing bounds of period, genre, even medium and language. Its flight traces an exorbitant (self-)portrait in which thinking admits to its commerce with life and flesh. It is in its animals, at the same time unbearably real and exquisitely unreal, that literature may today be closest to philosophy.
This book’s primary focus is the contemporary French novel and continental philosophy. In addition to Toussaint, Chevillard, NDiaye, and Darrieussecq, it engages the work of Jean de La Fontaine, Eadweard Muybridge, Edgar Allan Poe, Lewis Carroll, Samuel Beckett, and Francis Ponge.
Black and Blur
Fred Moten Duke University Press, 2017 Library of Congress E185.625.M684 2017
"Taken as a trilogy, consent not to be a single being is a monumental accomplishment: a brilliant theoretical intervention that might be best described as a powerful case for blackness as a category of analysis."—Brent Hayes Edwards, author of Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination
In Black and Blur—the first volume in his sublime and compelling trilogy consent not to be a single being—Fred Moten engages in a capacious consideration of the place and force of blackness in African diaspora arts, politics, and life. In these interrelated essays, Moten attends to entanglement, the blurring of borders, and other practices that trouble notions of self-determination and sovereignty within political and aesthetic realms. Black and Blur is marked by unlikely juxtapositions: Althusser informs analyses of rappers Pras and Ol' Dirty Bastard; Shakespeare encounters Stokely Carmichael; thinkers like Kant, Adorno, and José Esteban Muñoz and artists and musicians including Thornton Dial and Cecil Taylor play off each other. Moten holds that blackness encompasses a range of social, aesthetic, and theoretical insurgencies that respond to a shared modernity founded upon the sociological catastrophe of the transatlantic slave trade and settler colonialism. In so doing, he unsettles normative ways of reading, hearing, and seeing, thereby reordering the senses to create new means of knowing.
Christ's Subversive Body offers a fascinating exploration of six historical examples of politically or culturally subversive usages of the body of Christ. Shining a light on the enabling potential of religious rhetoric, Solovieva examines how in moments of crisis or transition throughout Western history the body of Christ has been deployed in a variety of discourses, including recent neo- and theoconservative movements in the United States.
Solovieva’s survey includes the iconoclastic polemics of Epiphanius at the moment of struggles for supremacy between the Roman state and the Christian church, the mystical theologico-political alchemy of an anonymous treatise circulated at the Council of Constance, Lavater’s counter-Enlightenment visions of the afterlife expressd through physiognomy, Dostoevsky’s refashioning of ethical communities, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s attempts to provoke the “scandal” of Jesus’s mission once more in the modern world, and the elaboration of a political theology subordinating democratic dissent to the higher unity of a corporately conceived “unitary executive” in early twenty-first-century America.
Solovieva presents her findings not as an entry into theological or Christological debates but rather as a study in comparative discourse analysis. She demonstrates how these uses of Christ’s body are triggered by moments of epistemological, political, and representational crisis in the history of Western civilization.
Through state-backed Catholicism, monolingualism, militarism, and dictatorship, Spain’s fascists earned their reputation for intolerance. It may therefore come as a surprise that 80,000 Moroccans fought at General Franco’s side in the 1930s. What brought these strange bedfellows together, Eric Calderwood argues, was a highly effective propaganda weapon: the legacy of medieval Muslim Iberia, known as al-Andalus. This legacy served to justify Spain’s colonization of Morocco and also to define the Moroccan national culture that supplanted colonial rule.
Writers of many political stripes have celebrated convivencia, the fabled “coexistence” of Christians, Muslims, and Jews in medieval Iberia. According to this widely-held view, modern Spain and Morocco are joined through their shared Andalusi past. Colonial al-Andalus traces this supposedly timeless narrative to the mid-1800s, when Spanish politicians and intellectuals first used it to press for Morocco’s colonization. Franco later harnessed convivencia to the benefit of Spain’s colonial program in Morocco. This shift precipitated an eloquent historical irony. As Moroccans embraced the Spanish insistence on Morocco’s Andalusi heritage, a Spanish idea about Morocco gradually became a Moroccan idea about Morocco.
Drawing on a rich archive of Spanish, Arabic, French, and Catalan sources—including literature, historiography, journalism, political speeches, schoolbooks, tourist brochures, and visual arts—Calderwood reconstructs the varied political career of convivencia and al-Andalus, showing how shared pasts become raw material for divergent contemporary ideologies, including Spanish fascism and Moroccan nationalism. Colonial al-Andalus exposes the limits of simplistic oppositions between European and Arab, Christian and Muslim, that shape current debates about European colonialism.
"It is not, nor it cannot come to good. But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue." Thus spoke Hamlet, one of the great kvetchers of literature. Every day, gripers challenge our patience and compassion. Yet Pollyannas rile us up with their grotesque contentment and unfathomable rejection of protest. Avital Ronell considers how literature and philosophy treat bellyachers, wailers, and grumps--and the complaints they lavish on the rest of us. Combining her trademark jazzy panache with a fearless range of readings, Ronell opens a dialog with readers that discusses thinkers with whom she has directly engaged. Beginning with Hamlet, and with a candid awareness of her own experiences, Ronell proceeds to show how complaining is aggravated, distracted, stifled, and transformed. She moves on to the exemplary complaints of Friedrich Nietzsche, Hannah Arendt, and Barbara Johnson and examines the complaint-riven history of deconstruction. Infused with the author's trademark wit, Complaint takes friends, colleagues, and all of us on a courageous philosophical journey.
We often say that music is ineffable, that it does not refer to anything outside of itself. But if music, in all its sensuous flux, does not mean anything in particular, might it still have a special kind of philosophical significance?
In Deep Refrains, Michael Gallope draws together the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ernst Bloch, Theodor Adorno, Vladimir Jankélévitch, Gilles Deleuze, and Félix Guattari in order to revisit the age-old question of music’s ineffability from a modern perspective. For these nineteenth- and twentieth-century European philosophers, music’s ineffability is a complex phenomenon that engenders an intellectually productive sense of perplexity. Through careful examination of their historical contexts and philosophical orientations, close attention to their use of language, and new interpretations of musical compositions that proved influential for their work, Deep Refrains forges the first panoptic view of their writings on music. Gallope concludes that music’s ineffability is neither a conservative phenomenon nor a pious call to silence. Instead, these philosophers ask us to think through the ways in which music’s stunning force might address, in an ethical fashion, intricate philosophical questions specific to the modern world.
Empire of Chance
Anders Engberg-Pedersen Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress DC226.3.E54 2015 | Dewey Decimal 940.27
Anders Engberg-Pedersen shows how the Napoleonic Wars inspired a new discourse on knowledge in the West. Soldiers returning from battle were forced to reconsider what it is possible to know and how decisions are made in a fog of imperfect knowledge. Chance no longer appeared exceptional but normative—a prism for understanding the modern world.
Brent Hayes Edwards Harvard University Press, 2017 Library of Congress PN56.M87E36 2017 | Dewey Decimal 810.9896073
Hearing across media is the source of innovation in a uniquely African American sphere of art-making and performance, Brent Hayes Edwards writes. He explores this fertile interface through case studies in jazz literature—both writings informed by music and the surprisingly large body of writing by jazz musicians themselves.
In Experiments with Empire Justin Izzo examines how twentieth-century writers, artists, and anthropologists from France, West Africa, and the Caribbean experimented with ethnography and fiction in order to explore new ways of knowing the colonial and postcolonial world. Focusing on novels, films, and ethnographies that combine fictive elements and anthropological methods and modes of thought, Izzo shows how empire gives ethnographic fictions the raw materials for thinking beyond empire's political and epistemological boundaries. In works by French surrealist writer Michel Leiris and filmmaker Jean Rouch, Malian writer Amadou Hampâté Bâ, Martinican author Patrick Chamoiseau, and others, anthropology no longer functions on behalf of imperialism as a way to understand and administer colonized peoples; its relationship with imperialism gives writers and artists the opportunity for textual experimentation and political provocation. It also, Izzo contends, helps readers to better make sense of the complicated legacy of imperialism and to imagine new democratic futures.
How are we to read the world after the fall of the Berlin Wall? Form and Instability brings notions of figuration and translation to bear on the post-1989 condition. "Eastern Europe" in this book is more than a territory. Marked by belatedness and untimely remainders, it is an unstable object that is continually misapprehended. From the intersection of comparative literature, area studies, and literary theory, Anita Starosta considers the epistemological and aesthetic consequences of the disappearance of the Second World. Literature here becomes a critical lens in its own right—both object and method, it confronts us with the rhetorical dimension of language and undermines the ideological and hermeneutic coherence of established categories. In original readings of Joseph Conrad and Witold Gombrowicz, among other twentieth-century writers, Form and Instability unsettles cultural boundaries as we know them.
New media are often greeted with suspicion by older media. The Fourth Estate at the Fourth Wall explores how, when the commercial press arrived in France in 1836, popular theater critiqued its corruption, its diluted politics, and its tendency to orient its content toward the lowest common denominator.
July Monarchy plays, which provided affordable entertainment to a broad section of the public, constitute a large, nearly untapped reservoir of commentary on the arrival of the forty-franc press. Vaudevilles and comedies ask whether journalism that benefits from advertisement can be unbiased. Dramas explore whether threatening to spread false news is an acceptable way for journalists to exercise their influence. Hollinshead-Strick uses both plays and novels to show that despite their claims to enlighten their readers, newspapers were often accused of obscuring public access to information. Balzac’s interventions in this media sphere reveal his utopian views on print technology. Nerval’s and Pyat’s demonstrate the nefarious impact that corrupt theater critics could have on authors and on the public alike.
Scholars of press and media studies, French literature, theater, and nineteenth-century literature more generally will find this book a valuable introduction to a cross-genre debate about press publicity that remains surprisingly resonant today.
The Global Wordsworth charts the travels of William Wordsworth’s poetry around the English-speaking world. But, as Katherine Bergren shows, Wordsworth’s afterlives reveal more than his influence on other writers; his appearances in novels and essays from the antebellum U.S. to post-Apartheid South Africa change how we understand a poet we think we know. Bergren analyzes writers like Jamaica Kincaid, J. M. Coetzee, and Lydia Maria Child who plant Wordsworth in their own writing and bring him to life in places and times far from his own—and then record what happens. By working beyond narratives of British influence, Bergren highlights a more complex dynamic of international response, in which later writers engage Wordsworth in conversations about slavery and gardening, education and daffodils, landscapes and national belonging. His global reception—critical, appreciative, and ambivalent—inspires us to see that Wordsworth was concerned not just with local, English landscapes and people, but also with their changing place in a rapidly globalizing world. This study demonstrates that Wordsworth is not tangential but rather crucial to our understanding of Global Romanticism.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
Handsomely Done: Aesthetics, Politics, and Media after Melville brings together leading and emerging scholars from comparative literature, critical theory, and media studies to examine Melville’s works in light of their ongoing afterlife and seemingly permanent contemporaneity. The volume explores the curious fact that the works of this most linguistically complex and seemingly most “untranslatable” of authors have yielded such compelling translations and adaptations as well as the related tendency of Melville’s writing to flash into relevance at every new historical-political conjuncture.
The volume thus engages not only Melville reception across media (Jorge Luis Borges, John Huston, Jean-Luc Godard, Led Zeppelin, Claire Denis) but also the Melvillean resonances and echoes of various political events and movements, such as the Attica uprising, the Red Army Faction, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter. This consideration of Melville’s afterlife opens onto theorizations of intermediality, un/translatability, and material intensity even as it also continually faces the most concrete and pressing questions of history and politics.
What image of Latin America have North American fiction writers created, found, or echoed, and how has the prevailing discourse about the region shaped their work? How have their writings contributed to the discursive construction of our southern neighbors, and how has the literature undermined this construction and added layers of complexity that subvert any approach based on stereotypes? Combining American Studies, Canadian Studies, Latin American Studies, and Cultural Theory, Breinig relies on long scholarly experience to answer these and other questions. Hemispheric Imaginations, an ambitious interdisciplinary study of literary representations of Latin America as encounters with the other, is among the most extensive such studies to date. It will appeal to a broad range of scholars of American Studies.
The Imaginary and Its Worlds collects essays that boldly rethink the imaginary as a key concept for cultural criticism. Addressing both the emergence and the reproduction of the social, the imaginary is ideally suited to chart the consequences of the transnational turn in American studies. Leading scholars in the field from the United States and Europe address the literary, social, and political dimensions of the imaginary, providing a methodological and theoretical groundwork for American studies scholarship in the transnational era and opening new arenas for conceptualizing formations of imaginary belonging and subjectivity. This important state-of-the-field collection will appeal to a broad constituency of humanists working to overcome methodological nationalism. The Imaginary and Its Worlds: An Introduction • LITERARY IMAGINARIES • Imagining Cultures: The Transnational Imaginary in Postrace America - Ramón Saldívar • The Necessary Fragmentation of the (U.S.) Literary-Cultural Imaginary - Lawrence Buell • Imaginaries of American Modernism - Heinz Ickstadt • SOCIAL IMAGINARIES • William James versus Charles Taylor: Philosophy of Religion and the Confines of the Social and Cultural Imaginaries - Herwig Friedl • The Shaping of We-Group Identities in the African American Community: A Perspective of Figurational Sociology on the Cultural Imaginary - Christa Buschendorf • Russia’s Californio Romance: The Other Shores of Whitman’s Pacific - Lene Johannessen • Form Games: Staging Life in the Systems Epoch - Mark Seltzer • POLITICAL IMAGINARIES • Real Toads - Walter Benn Michaels • Obama Unwound: The Romanticism of Victory and the Defeat of Compromise - Christopher Newfield • Barack Obama’s Orphic Mysteries - Donald E. Pease • Coda. The Imaginary and the Second Narrative: Reading as Transfer - Winfried Fluck • Contributors • Index
Written by theologians, literary scholars, political theorists, classicists, and philosophers, the essays in Judgment and Action address the growing sense that certain key concepts in humanistic scholarship have become suspect, if not downright unintelligible, amid the current plethora of critical methods. These essays aim to reassert the normative force of judgment and action, two concepts at the very core of literary analysis, systematic theology, philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, and other disciplines.
Interpretation is essential to every humanistic discipline, and every interpretation is an act of judgment. Yet the work of interpretation and judgment has been called into question by contemporary methods in the humanities, which incline either toward contextual determination of meaning or toward the suspension of judgment altogether. Action is closely related to judgment and interpretation and like them, it has been rendered questionable. An action is not simply the performance of a deed but requires the deed’s intelligibility, which can be secured only through interpretation and judgment.
Organized into four broad themes—interiority/contemplation, ethics, politics/community, and aesthetics/image—the aim of this broad-ranging and insightful collection is to illuminate the histories of judgment and action, identify critical sites from which rethinking them may begin, clarify how they came to be challenged, and relocate them within a broader intellectual-historical trajectory that renders them intelligible.
The postcolonial spread of democratic ideals such as freedom and equality has taken place all over the world despite the widespread cultural differences that would seem to inhibit such change. In her new book, Literatures of Liberation: Non-European Universalisms and Democratic Progress, Mukti Lakhi Mangharam questions how these “universalisms” came to be and suggests that these elements were not solely the result of Europe-based Enlightenment ideals. Instead, they also arose in context-specific forms throughout the world (particularly in the Global South), relatively independently from Enlightenment concepts. These translatable yet distinct cognitive frameworks, or “contextual universalisms,” as she argues, were central to the spread of modern democratic principles in response to the relentless expansion of capital.
In this way, she posits that these universalisms reconceptualize democratic ideals not as Western imports into precolonial societies but as regional phenomena tied to local relations of power and resistance. In charting these alternative democratic trajectories, Mangharam examines oft-overlooked regional and vernacular literary forms and provides a fresh approach to current theorizations of postcolonial and world literatures.
Andreas Huyssen Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PN56.C55H79 2015 | Dewey Decimal 809.93358209732
Andreas Huyssen explores the history and theory of metropolitan miniatures—short prose pieces about urban life written for European newspapers. His fine-grained readings open vistas into German critical theory and the visual arts, revealing the miniature to be one of the few genuinely innovative modes of spatialized writing created by modernism.
Mobility and Modernity: Panama in the Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Imagination rewrites the history of the Panama Canal, assessing for the first time the literary culture of the preceding decades. In this period, U.S. and British writers and visual artists developed sophisticated languages of mobility, time, and speed to cast the isthmus as an in-between place, a point of connection to more important destinations. These discourses served an important role in their own day and laid the imaginative ground for the canal to come.
In this study, Robert D. Aguirre provides bold new interpretations of Anthony Trollope, John Lloyd Stephens, and Eadweard Muybridge and also recovers information about literary communities previously lost to history. Mobility and Modernity shows how Panama became defined as a site of incipient globalization and a crucial link of empire. Across this narrow strip of land people and things traveled, technology developed, and political forces erupted. The isthmus became a site of mobility that paradoxically produced varieties of immobility. Parting ways with histories that celebrate the canal as a mighty engineering feat, Mobility and Modernity reveals a more complex story of cultural conflict that began with the first gold rush news in the late 1840s and continued throughout the century.
The award-winning American environmental writer Barry Lopez has traveled extensively in remote and populated parts of the world. Lopez’s fiction and nonfiction focus on the relationship between the physical landscape and human culture, posing abiding questions about ethics, intimacy, and place.
Other Country presents a full-scale treatment of Lopez’s work. James Perrin Warren examines the relationship between Lopez’s writing and the work of several contemporary artists, composers, and musicians, whose works range from landscape photography, painting, and graphic arts to earth art, ceramics, and avant-garde music. The author demonstrates Lopez’s role in creating this community of artists who have led cultural change, and shows that Lopez’s writing—and his engagement with the natural world—creates an “other country” by redefining boundaries, rediscovering a place, and renewing our perceptions of landscapes.
Warren’s critique examines manuscripts and typescripts from the 1960s to the present, interviews with Lopez conducted from 2008 to 2013, and interviews with artists. Part 1 focuses on the relationship between Lopez’s storytelling, which he calls “a conversation with the land,” and Robert Adams’s landscape photography. For both Lopez and Adams, a worthy artistic expression serves the cultural memory of a community, reminding us how to behave properly toward other people and the land. Part 2 looks at the collaborative friendship of Lopez and visual artist Alan Magee, tracking the development of Lopez’s short stories through a consideration of Magee’s career. Part 3 moves farther afield, discussing Lopez’s relationship to Richard Long’s earth art, Richard Rowland’s ceramics, and John Luther Adams’s soundscapes.
Other Country reveals the dynamic relationships between Lopez, considered by many the most important environmental writer working in America, and the artistic community, who seek to explore the spiritual and ethical dimensions of an honorable and attentive relationship to the land and thus offer profound implications for the future of the planet.
'Pataphysics, the pseudoscience imagined by Alfred Jarry, has so far, because of its academic frivolity and hermetic perversity, attracted very little scholarly or critical inquiry, and yet it has inspired a century of experimentation. Tracing the place of 'pataphysics in the relationship between science and poetry, Christian Bök shows it is fundamental to the nature of the postmodern, and considers the work of Alfred Jarry and its influence on others.
A long overdue critical look at a significant strain of the twentieth-century avant-garde, 'Pataphysics: The Poetics of Imaginary Science raises important historical, cultural, and theoretical issues germane to the production and reception of poetry, the ways we think about, write, and read it, and the sorts of claims it makes upon our understanding.
From antiquity to the Enlightenment, Persian culture has been integral to European history. Interest in all things Persian shaped not just Western views but the self-image of Iranians to the present day. Hamid Dabashi maps the changing geography of these connections, showing that traffic in ideas about Persia did not travel on a one-way street.
Story, in the largest sense of the term, is arguably the single most important aspect of narrative. But with the proliferation of antimimetic writing, traditional narrative theory has been inadequate for conceptualizing and theorizing a vast body of innovative narratives. In A Poetics of Plot for the Twenty-First Century: Theorizing Unruly Narratives, Brian Richardson proposes a new model for evaluating literature—returning to the basis of narrative theory to illuminate how authors play with and help clarify the boundaries of narrative theory. While he focuses on late modernist, postmodern, and contemporary narratives, the study also includes many earlier works, spanning from Aristophanes and Shakespeare through James Joyce and Virginia Woolf to Salman Rushdie and Angela Carter.
By exploring fundamental questions about narrative, Richardson provides a detailed, nuanced, and comprehensive theory that includes neglected categories of storytelling and significantly enhances our treatment of traditional areas of analysis. Ultimately, this book promises to transform and expand the study of story and plot.
Since the late 1960s, when he introduced Theodor Adorno’s work on literature and cultural critique to an English-speaking public, Samuel Weber has stimulated the discovery of new and unexpected links within a broad spectrum of humanistic disciplines, including critical theory and psychoanalysis, media studies and literary analysis, continental philosophy and theater studies. The international group of scholars who contribute to Points of Departure demonstrate the persistent fecundity of Weber’s work. Centered around his essay on the Ghost of Hamlet, as reflected in the writings of Walter Benjamin and Carl Schmitt, the volume is broadly divided into explorations of the nature of spectrality, on the one hand, and the dynamics of reading, on the other. Each of the twelve essays thus takes its point of departure from “Weber’s singular path between languages, cultures, and traditions”—to quote Jacques Derrida, whose fictive “interview with a passing journalist” is published here for the first time.
This thought-provoking collection gathers a roster of seasoned Emerson scholars to address anew the way non-American writers and texts influenced Emerson, while also discussing the manner in which Emerson’s writings influenced a diverse array of non-American authors. This volume includes new, original, and engaging research on crucial topics that have for the most part been absent from recent critical literature. While the motivations for this project will be familiar to scholars of literary studies and the history of philosophy, its topics, themes, and texts are distinctly novel. A Power to Translate the World provides a touchstone for a new generation of scholars trying to orient themselves to Emerson’s ongoing relevance to global literature and philosophy.
With global debt, labor, and environmental crises on the rise, the precarious position of people in the Global South has become a significant force moving people across countries, continents, and around the world. Through a comparative study of contemporary trans-Atlantic immigrant narratives in French, Spanish, and English, Alexandra Perisic offers an account of a multilingual Atlantic under neoliberalism. More specifically, Precarious Crossings: Immigration, Neoliberalism, and the Atlantic examines how contemporary authors from the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America—including Roberto Bolaño, Giannina Braschi, Maryse Condé, Fatou Diome, Marie Ndiaye, and Caryl Phillips, among others—have reconceptualized the Atlantic from a triangular space into a multipolar one, introducing new destinations for contemporary immigrants and establishing new Atlantic connections.
Perisic argues that in traveling beyond the postcolonial route that connects former colonizer and former colonized, these authors also shift their focus from cultural difference and national belonging to precarity—a condition characterized by a lack of economic and social stability and protection—as a shared characteristic under global neoliberalization. She demonstrates how contemporary Atlantic narratives reveal the contradictions inherent in neoliberalism as an ideology—thereby showing how they further participate in Atlantic literary and cultural dialogues and push against literary conventions of various genre as they explore the complexities of a globalized Atlantic.
An ARTery Best Book of the Year
An Art of Manliness Best Book of the Year
In a culture that has become progressively more skeptical and materialistic, the desires of the individual self stand supreme, Mark Edmundson says. We spare little thought for the great ideals that once gave life meaning and worth. Self and Soul is an impassioned effort to defend the values of the Soul.
“An impassioned critique of Western society, a relentless assault on contemporary complacency, shallowness, competitiveness and self-regard…Throughout Self and Soul, Edmundson writes with a Thoreau-like incisiveness and fervor…[A] powerful, heartfelt book.”
—Michael Dirda, Washington Post
“[Edmundson’s] bold and ambitious new book is partly a demonstration of what a ‘real education’ in the humanities, inspired by the goal of ‘human transformation’ and devoted to taking writers seriously, might look like…[It] quietly sets out to challenge many educational pieties, most of the assumptions of recent literary studies—and his own chosen lifestyle.”
—Mathew Reisz, Times Higher Education
“Edmundson delivers a welcome championing of humanistic ways of thinking and living.”
Every writer is a player in the marketplace for literature. Jonathan Paine locates the economics ingrained within the stories themselves, showing how the business of literature affects even storytelling devices such as genre, plot, and repetition. In this new model of criticism, the text is a record of its author’s sales pitch.
Inspired by the foreign policy entanglements of recent years, William V. Spanos offers a dramatic interpretation of Twain’s classic A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, providing a fresh assessment of American exceptionalism and the place of a global America in the American imaginary. Spanos insists that Twain identifies with his protagonist, particularly in his defining use of the spectacle, and thus with an American exceptionalism that uncannily anticipates the George W. Bush administration’s normalization of the state of exception and the imperial policy of “preemptive war,” unilateral “regime change,” and “shock and awe” tactics. Equally stimulating is Spanos’s thoroughly original ontology of American exceptionalism and imperialism and his tracing of these forces, through a chronological examination of Twain studies and criticism over the past century. As an examination of an overlooked text, and a critical history of American studies from its origins in the nation-oriented Myth and Symbol school of the Cold War era to its present globalizing or transnationalizing perspective, Shock and Awe will appeal to a broad audience of American literature scholars and beyond.
The Story of Myth
Sarah Iles Johnston Harvard University Press, 2018 Library of Congress BL783.J64 2019 | Dewey Decimal 292.13
Sarah Iles Johnston argues that the nature of myths as gripping tales starring vivid characters enabled them to do their most important work: sustaining belief in the gods and heroes of Greek religion. She shows how Greek myths—and the stories told by all cultures—affect our shared view of the cosmos and the creatures who inhabit it.
How can traditions be subversive? The kinship between African traditions and novels has been under debate for the better part of a century, but the conversation has stagnated because of a slowness to question the terms on which it is based: orality vs. writing, tradition vs. modernity, epic vs. novel. These rigid binaries were, in fact, invented by colonialism and cemented by postcolonial identity politics. Thanks to this entrenched paradigm, far too much ink has been poured into the so-called Great Divide between oral and writing societies, and to the long-lamented decline of the ways of old. Given advances in social science and humanities research—studies in folklore, performance, invented traditions, colonial and postcolonial ethnography, history, and pop culture—the moment is right to rewrite this calcified literary history. This book is not another story of subverted traditions, but of subversive ones. West African epics like Sunjata, Samori, and Lat-Dior offer a space from which to think about, and criticize, the issues of today, just as novels in European languages do. Through readings of documented performances and major writers like Yambo Ouologuem and Amadou Hampâté Bâ of Mali, Ahmadou Kourouma of Ivory Coast, and Aminata Sow Fall and Boubacar Boris Diop of Senegal, this book conducts an entirely new analysis of West African oral epic and its relevance to contemporary world literature.
The Temptation of Despair
Werner Sollors Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress D829.G3S56 2014 | Dewey Decimal 940.554
In Germany the end of World War II calls forth images of obliterated cities, hungry refugees, and ghostly monuments to Nazi crimes. Drawing on diaries, photographs, essays, reports, fiction and film, Werner Sollors makes visceral the sorrow and anger, guilt and pride, despondency and resilience of a defeated people--and the paradoxes of occupation.
Theory of the Lyric
Jonathan Culler Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PN1356.C845 2015 | Dewey Decimal 809.14
What sort of thing is a lyric poem? An intense expression of subjective experience? The fictive speech of a specifiable persona? Examining ancient and modern poems from Sappho to Ashbery, Jonathan Culler reveals the limitations of these two models—the Romantic and the modern—and challenges the assumption that poems exist to be interpreted.
Engaging scholars from across humanistic fields grappling with the role and value of theory in our times, Theory's Autoimmunity argues for reclaiming theory's skepticism as a value. To cultivate theory's skeptical impulses is to embrace what Jacques Derrida has termed autoimmunity: a condition of openness to the outside—openness of the self, the community, democracy, or other ideals—that allows for change.
Openness to change comes with risks, and the self-protective temptation to immunize oneself or one's community against these risks is strong. Yet without such risks, without openness to otherness, no encounter with the new, with difference, can ever take place. Without autoimmunity, theory becomes stagnant and programmatic, unable to receive and respond to the other or the event, to address, revise, and produce new meanings.
Taking up the challenge of thinking theory as skepticism, with and against philosophy, this study turns to literature as an interlocutor, investigating the ways theory, like the literary works of Montaigne, Baudelaire, Stendhal, Morrison, or Duras, declines to put on the interpretive brakes, to stop reading at a point of understanding. Undoing and remaking itself, theory—those critical interpretive practices that revel in the creation and proliferation of meaning—becomes autoimmune.
Many of the West’s best writers fought in duels or wrote about them, seduced by glamour or risk or recklessness. A gift as a plot device, the duel also offered a way to discover how we face fears of humiliation, pain, and death. John Leigh’s literary history of the duel illuminates these and other tensions attending the birth of the modern world.
Miriam Leonard Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress BH301.T7L46 2015 | Dewey Decimal 809.2512
Under the microscope of recent scholarship the universality of Greek tragedy has started to fade, as particularities of Athenian culture have come into focus. Miriam Leonard contests the idea of the death of tragedy and argues powerfully for the continued vitality and viability of Greek tragic theater in the central debates of contemporary culture.
Transpoetic Exchange illuminates the poetic interactions between Octavio Paz (1914-1998) and Haroldo de Campos (1929-2003) from three perspectives--comparative, theoretical, and performative. The poem Blanco by Octavio Paz, written when he was ambassador to India in 1966, and Haroldo de Campos’ translation (or what he calls a “transcreation”) of that poem, published as Transblanco in 1986, as well as Campos’ Galáxias, written from 1963 to 1976, are the main axes around which the book is organized.
The volume is divided into three parts. “Essays” unites seven texts by renowned scholars who focus on the relationship between the two authors, their impact and influence, and their cultural resonance by exploring explore the historical background and the different stylistic and cultural influences on the authors, ranging from Latin America and Europe to India and the U.S. The second section, “Remembrances,” collects four experiences of interaction with Haroldo de Campos in the process of transcreating Paz’s poem and working on Transblanco and Galáxias. In the last section, “Poems,” five poets of international standing--Jerome Rothenberg, Antonio Cicero, Keijiro Suga, André Vallias, and Charles Bernstein.
Paz and Campos, one from Mexico and the other from Brazil, were central figures in the literary history of the second half of the 20th century, in Latin America and beyond. Both poets signal the direction of poetry as that of translation, understood as the embodiment of otherness and of a poetic tradition that every new poem brings back as a Babel re-enacted.
This volume is a print corollary to and expansion of an international colloquium and poetic performance held at Stanford University in January 2010 and it offers a discussion of the role of poetry and translation from a global perspective. The collection holds great value for those interested in all aspects of literary translation and it enriches the ongoing debates on language, modernity, translation and the nature of the poetic object.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
In Unconsolable Contemporary Paul Rabinow continues his explorations of "a philosophic anthropology of the contemporary." Defining the contemporary as a moving ratio in which the modern becomes historical, Rabinow shows how an anthropological ethos of the contemporary can be realized by drawing on the work of art historians, cultural critics, social theorists, and others, thereby inventing a methodology he calls anthropological assemblage. He focuses on the work and persona of German painter Gerhard Richter, demonstrating how reflecting on Richter's work provides rich insights into the practices and stylization of what, following Aby Warburg, one might call "the afterlife of the modern." Rabinow opens with analyses of Richter's recent Birkenau exhibit: both the artwork and its critical framing. He then chronicles Richter's experiments in image-making as well as his subtle inclusion of art historical and critical discourses about the modern. This, Rabinow contends, enables Richter to signal his awareness of the stakes of such theorizing while refusing the positioning of his work by modernist critical theorists. In this innovative work, Rabinow elucidates the ways meaning is created within the contemporary.
Julietta Singh challenges the drive toward the mastery over self and others by showing how the forms of self-mastery advocated by anticolonial thinkers like Fanon and Gandhi unintentionally reproduced colonial logic, thereby leading her to argue for a more productive human subjectivity that is not centered on concepts of mastery.
Unwriting Maya Literature provides an important decolonial framework for reading Maya texts that builds on the work of Maya authors and intellectuals such as Q’anjob’al Gaspar Pedro González and Kaqchikel Irma Otzoy. Paul M. Worley and Rita M. Palacios privilege the Maya category ts’íib over constructions of the literary in order to reveal how Maya peoples themselves conceive of artistic creation. This offers a decolonial departure from theoretical approaches that remain situated within alphabetic Maya linguistic and literary creation.
As ts’íib refers to a broad range of artistic production from painted codices and textiles to works composed in Latin script as well as plastic arts, the authors argue that texts by contemporary Maya writers must be read as dialoguing with a multimodal Indigenous understanding of text. In other words, ts’íib is an alternative to understanding “writing” that does not stand in opposition to but rather fully encompasses alphabetic writing, placing it alongside and in dialogue with a number of other forms of recorded knowledge. This shift in focus allows for a critical reexamination of the role that weaving and bodily performance play in these literatures, as well as for a nuanced understanding of how Maya writers articulate decolonial Maya aesthetics in their works.
Unwriting Maya Literature places contemporary Maya literatures within a context situated in Indigenous ways of knowing and being. Through ts’íib, the authors propose an alternative to traditional analysis of Maya cultural production that allows critics, students, and admirers to respectfully interact with the texts and their authors. Unwriting Maya Literature offers critical praxis for understanding Mesoamerican works that encompass non-Western ways of reading and creating texts.
Although Walker Percy named many influences on his work and critics have zeroed in on Kierkegaard in particular, no one has considered his intentional influence: the nineteenth-century Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. In a study that revives and complicates notions of adaptation and influence, Jessica Hooten Wilson details the long career of Walker Percy. Walker Percy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Search for Influence demonstrates—through close reading of both writers’ works, examination of archival materials, and biographical criticism—not only how pervasive and inescapable Dostoevsky’s influence was but also how necessary it was to the distinctive strengths of Percy’s fiction.
From Dostoevsky, Percy learned how to captivate his non-Christian readership with fiction saturated by a Christian vision of reality. Not only was his method of imitation in line with this Christian faith but also the aesthetic mode and very content of his narratives centered on his knowledge of Christ. The influence of Dostoevsky on Percy, then, becomes significant as a modern case study for showing the illusion of artistic autonomy and long-held, Romantic assumptions about artistic originality. Ultimately, Wilson suggests, only by studying the good that came before can one translate it in a new voice for the here and now.
“My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see. That—and no more, and it is every-thing.” So wrote Joseph Conrad in the best-known account of literary impressionism, the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century movement featuring narratives that paint pictures in readers’ minds. If literary impressionism is anything, it is the project to turn prose into vision.
But vision of what? Michael Fried demonstrates that the impressionists sought to compel readers not only to see what was described and narrated but also to see writing itself. Fried reads Conrad, Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, W. H. Hudson, Ford Madox Ford, H. G. Wells, Jack London, Rudyard Kipling, Erskine Childers, R. B. Cunninghame Graham, and Edgar Rice Burroughs as avatars of the scene of writing. The upward-facing page, pen and ink, the look of written script, and the act of inscription are central to their work. These authors confront us with the sheer materiality of writing, albeit disguised and displaced so as to allow their narratives to proceed to their ostensible ends.
What Was Literary Impressionism? radically reframes a large body of important writing. One of the major art historians and art critics of his generation, Fried turns to the novel and produces a rare work of insight and erudition that transforms our understanding of some of the most challenging fiction in the English language.