This collection of essays traces the attempts of one writing teacher to understand theoretically - and to respond pedagogically - to what happens when students from diverse backgrounds learn to use language in college.
Bizzell begins from the assumption that democratic education requires us to attempt to educate all students, including those whose social or ethnic backgrounds may have offered them little experience with academic discourse. Over the ten-year period chronicled in these essays, she has seen herself primarily as an advocate for such students, sometimes called “basic writers.”
Bizzell’s views on education for “critical consciousness,” widely discussed in the writing field, are represented in most of the essays in this volume. But in the last few chapters, and in the intellectual autobiography written as the introduction to the volume, she calls her previous work into question on the grounds that her self-appointment as an advocate for basic writers may have been presumptous, and her hopes for the politically liberating effects of academic discourse misplaced. She concludes by calling for a theory of discourse that acknowledges the need to argue for values and pedagogy that can assist these arguements to proceed more inclusively than ever before.
The essays in this volume constitute the main body of work in which Bizzell developed her influential and often cited ideas. Organized chronologically, they present a picture of how she has grappled with major issues in composition studies over the past decade. In the process, she sketches a trajectory for the development of composition studies as an academic discipline.
This accessible and innovative essay on Aristotle, based on fresh translations of a wide selection of his writings, challenges received interpretations of his accounts of practical wisdom, action, and contemplation and of their places in the happiest human life.
Paul De Man University of Minnesota Press, 1996 Library of Congress PN81.D378 1996 | Dewey Decimal 801.95
An important reconsideration of ideology by one of this century's most eminent theorists.
This long-awaited volume by one of the major figures of twentieth-century thought represents perhaps the most provocative, serious, and important rethinking of "ideology" since the publication of Althusser's essays in the 1960s and 1970s. Aesthetic Ideology offers the definitive resource to de Man's thoughts on philosophy, politics, and history.
The core of Aesthetic Ideology is a rigorous inquiry into the relation of rhetoric, epistemology, and aesthetics, one that presents radical notions of materiality. De Man reads Kant and Hegel with a combination of philosophical rigor, interpretive pressure, speculative daring, and ironic good humor that is unique to him, ultimately reaching the heart of philosophical aesthetics.
The texts collected here were written or delivered as lectures during the last years of de Man's life, between 1977 and 1983. Many of them have never been available previously in any form; these include essays on Kant's materialism, his relation to Schiller, and the concept of irony. A culmination of de Man's thinking on these central issues, Aesthetic Ideology is a necessary and vital component of your humanities bookshelf.
Paul de Man (1919-1983) held appointments at Cornell, Johns Hopkins, the University of Zurich, and Yale. Among his books are Blindness and Insight (1983), The Resistance to Theory (1986), Critical Writings, 1953-1978 (1993), and Allegories of Reading (1979).
Andrzej Warminski is professor of comparative literature at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Readings in Interpretation (1987) and the forthcoming Material Inscriptions.
In An Aesthetic Occupation Daniel Bertrand Monk unearths the history of the unquestioned political immediacy of “sacred” architecture in the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. Monk combines groundbreaking archival research with theoretical insights to examine in particular the Mandate era—the period in the first half of the twentieth century when Britain held sovereignty over Palestine. While examining the relation between monuments and mass violence in this context, he documents Palestinian, Zionist, and British attempts to advance competing arguments concerning architecture’s utility to politics. Succumbing neither to the view that monuments are autonomous figures onto which political meaning has been projected, nor to the obverse claim that in Jerusalem shrines are immediate manifestations of the political, Monk traces the reciprocal history of both these positions as well as describes how opponents in the conflict debated and theorized their own participation in its self-representation. Analyzing controversies over the authenticity of holy sites, the restorations of the Dome of the Rock, and the discourse of accusation following the Buraq, or Wailing Wall, riots of 1929, Monk discloses for the first time that, as combatants looked to architecture and invoked the transparency of their own historical situation, they simultaneously advanced—and normalized—the conflict’s inability to account for itself. This balanced and unique study will appeal to anyone interested in Israel or Zionism, the Palestinians, the Middle East conflict, Jerusalem, or its monuments. Scholars of architecture, political theory, and religion, as well as cultural and critical studies will also be informed by its arguments.
"These sixteen essays by Arnold Isenberg "bring wide-ranging connoiseurship, intricate analysis, and epigrammatic literacy to bear on a number of glib and fuzzy oppositions between form and content, description and interpretation, perception and meaning, technique and substance, and belief and expression, articulating provocative strategies for illuminating the canon of the arts and the organ of criticism. . . . Any thoughtful lover of the arts could read this book with profit and inspiration."—Choice
Architecture is often thought to be a diary of a society, filled with symbolic representations of specific cultural moments. However, as Craig L. Wilkins observes, that diary includes far too few narratives of the diverse cultures in U.S. society. Wilkins states that the discipline of architecture has a resistance to African Americans at every level, from the startlingly small number of architecture students to the paltry number of registered architects in the United States today.
Working to understand how ideologies are formed, transmitted, and embedded in the built environment, Wilkins deconstructs how the marginalization of African Americans is authorized within the field of architecture. He then outlines how activist forms of expression shape and sustain communities, fashioning an architectural theory around the site of environmental conflict constructed by hip-hop culture.
Wilkins places his concerns in a historical context, and also offers practical solutions to address them. In doing so, he reveals new possibilities for an architecture that acknowledges its current shortcomings and replies to the needs of multicultural constituencies.
Craig L. Wilkins, a registered architect, teaches architecture and urban planning at the University of Michigan.
In this collection of essays by seven outstanding American scholars, interests as diverse as feminism, Marxism, deconstruction, and cultural poetics are brought together around a central question: How does the choice of a particular theory after the practice of reading, and how do altered practices of reading in turn call forth more theory?
After the Death of Literature
Richard B. Schwartz Southern Illinois University Press, 1997 Library of Congress PN81.S243 1997 | Dewey Decimal 801.95
Calling Samuel Johnson the greatest literary critic since Aristotle, Richard B. Schwartz assumes the perspective of that quintessential eighteenth-century man of letters to examine the critical and theoretical literary developments that gained momentum in the 1970s and stimulated the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s.
Schwartz speculates that Johnson—who revered hard facts, a wide cultural base, and common sense—would have exhibited scant patience with the heavily academic approaches currently favored in the study of literature. He considers it probable that the combatants in the early struggles of the culture wars are losing energy and that, in the wake of Alvin Kernan’s declaration of the death of literature, new battlegrounds are developing. Ironically admiring the orchestration and staging of battles old and new—"superb" he calls them—he characterizes the entire cultural war as a "battle between straw men, carefully constructed by the combatants to sustain a pattern of polarization that could be exploited to provide continuing professional advancement."
In seven diverse essays, Schwartz calls for both the broad cultural vision and the sanity of a Samuel Johnson from those who make pronouncements about literature. Running through and unifying these essays is the conviction that the cultural elite is clearly detached from life: "Academics, fleeing in horror from anything smacking of the bourgeois, offer us something far worse: bland sameness presented in elitist terms in the name of the poor." Another theme is that the either/or absolutism of many of the combatants is "absurd on its face [and] belies the complexities of art, culture, and humanity."
Like Johnson, Schwartz would terminate the divorce between literature and life, make allies of literature and criticism, and remove poetry from the province of the university and return it to the domain of readers. Texts would carry meaning, embody values, and have a serious impact on life.
After the New Criticism
Frank Lentricchia University of Chicago Press, 1981 Library of Congress PN94.L43 | Dewey Decimal 801.95
This work is the first history and evaluation of contemporary American critical theory within its European philosophical contexts. In the first part, Frank Lentricchia analyzes the impact on our critical thought of Frye, Stevens, Kermode, Sartre, Poulet, Heidegger, Sussure, Barthes, Lévi-Strauss, Derrida, and Foucault, among other, less central figures. In a second part, Lentricchia turns to four exemplary theorists on the American scene—Murray Krieger, E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Paul de Man, and Harold Bloom—and an analysis of their careers within the lineage established in part one.
Lentricchia's critical intention is in evidence in his sustained attack on the more or less hidden formalist premises inherited from the New Critical fathers. Even in the name of historical consciousness, he contends, contemporary theorists have often cut literature off from social and temporal processes. By so doing he believes that they have deprived literature of its relevant values and turned the teaching of both literature and theory into a rarefied activity. All along the way, with the help of such diverse thinkers as Saussure, Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, and Bloom, Lentricchia indicates a strategy by which future critical theorists may resist the mandarin attitudes of their fathers.
"Against Theory," the title essay in this volume, challenges the notion that literary theory has any real work to do, or any results to show. This challenge—issued by Steven Knapp and Walter Benn Michaels in Critical Inquiry (8:4)—strikes some critics as scandalous, others as provocative and productive.
The argument is directed against both sides of the current debates in literary theory, criticizing theoretical "objectivists" like E. D. Hirsch, Jr., on the one hand, and proponents of indeterminacy like Paul de Man on the other. The attack is not just on a particular way of doing theory but on the entire project of literary theory. The challenge is not only to a way of thinking and writing but to a way of making a living.
The resulting controversy has drawn so much attention among literary critics that it has been collected in a single volume so that the debate can be followed from start to finish. This collection includes the essay "Against Theory," seven responses to it, and a rejoinder by Knapp and Michaels (originally published in Critical Inquiry 9:4); in addition, there are two new statements plus a final reply by Knapp and Michaels.
The debate chronicled in this volume raises the most fundamental issues in the theory of meaning and the practice of interpretation. Are Knapp and Michaels confronting literary theory with a new "pragmatic" form of theory? Or are they (as some of their respondents suggest) arguing for a new form of nihilism? "If it is a nihilism," writes editor W. J. T. Mitchell, "it is one that demands an answer, not easy polemical dismissal, one that calls for theory to clarify its claims, not to mystify them and the easy assurance of intellectual fashion and institutional authority." It is the intention of Against Theory to aid in that clarification.
"All is true," realist writers would say of their work, to which critics now respond: All is art and artifice. Offering a new approach to reading nineteenth-century realist fiction, Lilian R. Furst seeks to reconcile these contradictory claims. In doing so, she clarifies the deceptions, appropriations, intentions, and ultimately the power of literary realism. In close textual analyses of works ranging across European and American literature, including paradigmatic texts by Balzac, Flaubert, George Eliot, Zola, Henry James, and Thomas Mann, Furst shows how the handling of time, the presentation of place, and certain narrational strategies have served the realists’ claim. She demonstrates how readers today, like those a hundred years ago, are convinced of the authenticity of the created illusion by such means as framing, voice, perspective, and the slippage from metonymy to metaphor. Further, Furst reveals the pains the realists took to conceal these devices, and thus to protect their claim to be employing a simple form. Taking into account both the claims and the covert strategies of these writers, All Is True puts forward an alternative to the conventional polarized reading of the realist text—which emerges here as neither strictly an imitation of an extraneous model nor simply a web of words but a brilliantly complex imbrication of the two. A major statement on one of the most enduring forms in cultural history, this book promises to alter not only our view of realist fiction but our understanding of how we read it.
In 1851, when photographs were first shown at the Great Exhibition of Arts and Industry, photography was primarily a hobby for well-to-do amateurs. These early photographers were members of the intellectual and aristocratic elite. They had the means, the education, and the leisure to pursue this new art-science with ardent seriousness. They formed societies, such as the Photographic Society and the Photographic Exchange Club, and published journals for the purpose of sharing their discoveries, exchanging photographs, and publicizing the medium. In this highly original and sensitive book about the birth and transformation of photography in Victorian England, Grace Seiberling explores the work of thirty-three amateur photographers. She describes how they affected the development of the medium and set technical, subject, and compositional standards for future generations of photographers.
The image of the shadow in mid-twentieth-century America appeared across a variety of genres and media including poetry, pulp fiction, photography, and film. Drawing on an extensive framework that ranges from Cold War cultural histories to theorizations of psychoanalysis and the Gothic, Erik Mortenson argues that shadow imagery in 1950s and 1960s American culture not only reflected the anxiety and ambiguity of the times but also offered an imaginative space for artists to challenge the binary rhetoric associated with the Cold War.
After contextualizing the postwar use of shadow imagery in the wake of the atomic bomb, Ambiguous Borderlands looks at shadows in print works, detailing the reemergence of the pulp fiction crime fighter the Shadow in the late-1950s writings of Sylvia Plath, Amiri Baraka, and Jack Kerouac. Using Freudian and Jungian conceptions of the unconscious, Mortenson then discusses Kerouac’s and Allen Ginsberg’s shared dream of a “shrouded stranger” and how it shaped their Beat aesthetic. Turning to the visual, Mortenson examines the dehumanizing effect of shadow imagery in the Cold War photography of Robert Frank, William Klein, and Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Mortenson concludes with an investigation of the use of chiaroscuro in 1950s film noir and the popular television series The Twilight Zone, further detailing how the complexities of Cold War society were mirrored across these media in the ubiquitous imagery of light and dark.
From comics to movies, Beats to bombs, Ambiguous Borderlands provides a novel understanding of the Cold War cultural context through its analysis of the image of the shadow in midcentury media. Its interdisciplinary approach, ambitious subject matter, and diverse theoretical framing make it essential reading for anyone interested in American literary and popular culture during the fifties and sixties.
Blier illuminates the extraordinary architecture of the Batammaliba people of Western Africa, revealing these buildings as texts through which we can read the beliefs, psychology, traditions, and social concerns of their inhabitants. In doing so, she explores the role of vernacular architecture as an expression of culture.
"A splendid analysis of the centrality of architecture in the daily lives of the Batammaliba and its integral role in articulating social values....The story is beautifully told in the best of anthropological traditions."—Judith R. Blau, Contemporary Society
"A remarkable study....Blier's volume carries the study of African architecture to a qualitatively new level of scholarship. It introduces a new dimension whereby the architectural medium can be used to illuminate much of the entire belief system of any culture."—Labelle Prussin, African Arts
"In this excellent book Blier provides a richly detailed and searching account of what architecture means to the Batammaliba of northern Togo and Benin....The finest account I have yet read of the relations between systems of beliefs, ritual practices, and African aesthetics and plastic arts....The ethnography and basic insight should be the envy of any social anthropologist."—T.O. Beidelman, Man
Jane Gallop Duke University Press, 2002 Library of Congress PN98.W64G33 2002 | Dewey Decimal 801.9509048
"Anecdote" and "theory" have diametrically opposed connotations: humorous versus serious, specific versus general, trivial versus overarching, short versus grand. Anecdotal Theory cuts through these oppositions to produce theory with a sense of humor, theorizing which honors the uncanny detail of lived experience. Challenging academic business as usual, renowned literary scholar Jane Gallop argues that all theory is bound up with stories and urges theorists to pay attention to the "trivial," quotidian narratives that theory all too often represses.
Published during the 1990s, these essays are united through a common methodological engagement—writing that recounts a personal anecdote and then attempts to read that anecdote for the theoretical insights it affords. Gallop addresses many of the major questions of feminist theory, regularly revisiting not only ‘70s feminism, but also poststructuralism and the academy, for, as Gallop explains, the practice of anecdotal theory derives from psychoanalysis, deconstruction, and feminism. Whether addressing issues of pedagogy, the sexual position one occupies when on the academic job-market, bad-girl feminists, or the notion of sisterhood, these essays exemplify theory grappling with its own erotics, theory connected to the real. They are bold, illuminating, and—dare we say—fun.
How poetry can help us think about and live in the Anthropocene by reframing our intimate relationship with geological time
The Anthropocene describes how humanity has radically intruded into deep time, the vast timescales that shape the Earth system and all life-forms that it supports. The challenge it poses—how to live in our present moment alongside deep pasts and futures—brings into sharp focus the importance of grasping the nature of our intimate relationship with geological time. In Anthropocene Poetics, David Farrier shows how contemporary poetry by Elizabeth Bishop, Seamus Heaney, Evelyn Reilly, and Christian Bök, among others, provides us with frameworks for thinking about this uncanny sense of time.
Looking at a diverse array of lyric and avant-garde poetry from three interrelated perspectives—the Anthropocene and the “material turn” in environmental philosophy; the Plantationocene and the role of global capitalism in environmental crisis; and the emergence of multispecies ethics and extinction studies—Farrier rethinks the environmental humanities from a literary critical perspective. Anthropocene Poetics puts a concern with deep time at the center, defining a new poetics for thinking through humanity’s role as geological agents, the devastation caused by resource extraction, and the looming extinction crisis.
Angel Rama (1926-1983) is a major figure in Latin American literary and cultural studies, but little has been published on his critical work. In this study, José Eduardo González focuses on Rama’s response to and appropriation of European critics like Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Georg Lukács. González argues that Rama realized the inapplicability of many of their theories and descriptions of cultural modernization to Latin America, and thus reworked them to produce his own discourse that challenged prevailing notions of social and cultural modernization.
The American suburban dream house-a single-family, detached dwelling, frequently clustered in tight rows and cul-de-sacs-has been attacked for some time as homogeneous and barren, yet the suburbs are home to half of the American population. Architectural historian John Archer suggests the endurance of the ideal house is deeply rooted in the notions of privacy, property, and selfhood that were introduced in late seventeenth-century England and became the foundation of the American nation and identity.
Spanning four centuries, Architecture and Suburbia explores phenomena ranging from household furnishings and routines to the proliferation of the dream house in parallel with Cold War politics. Beginning with John Locke, whose Enlightenment philosophy imagined individuals capable of self-fulfillment, Archer examines the eighteenth-century British bourgeois villa and the earliest London suburbs. He recounts how early American homeowners used houses to establish social status and how twentieth-century Americans continued to flock to single-family houses in the suburbs, encouraged by patriotism, fueled by consumerism, and resisting disdain by disaffected youths, designers, and intellectuals. Finally, he recognizes “hybridized” or increasingly diverse American suburbs as the dynamic basis for a strengthened social fabric.
From Enlightenment philosophy to rap lyrics, from the rise of a mercantile economy to discussions over neighborhoods, sprawl, and gated communities, Archer addresses the past, present, and future of the American dream house.
John Archer is professor of cultural studies and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota. His book The Literature of British Domestic Architecture, 1715-1842, is the standard reference on the subject, and he also contributed to the Encyclopedia of Urban America and the Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Architecture.
Architecture, Means and Ends
Vittorio Gregotti University of Chicago Press, 2010 Library of Congress NA2543.T43G72513 2010 | Dewey Decimal 720.105
Vittorio Gregotti—the architect of Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium, Milan’s Arcimboldi Opera Theater, and Lisbon’s Centro Cultural de Belém, among many other noted constructions—is not only a designer of international repute but an acclaimed theorist and critic. Architecture, Means and Ends is his practical and imaginative reflection on the role of the technical aspects of architectural design, both as part of the larger process of innovation and in relation to the mythic opposition between vision and construction.
Interweaving the seemingly irreconcilable concerns of aesthetics, meaning, and construction, Architecture, Means and Ends reflects Gregotti’s overarching claim that buildings always have a symbolic, cultural content. In this book, he argues that by making symbolic expression a primary objective in the design of a project, the designer will produce a practical aesthetic as well as an ethical solution. Architecture, Means and Ends embraces that philosophy and will appeal to those, like Gregotti, working at the intersections of the history of design, art criticism, and architectural theory.
The September 11 terrorist attacks targeted, in Osama bin Laden’s words, “America’s icons of military and economic power.” In The Architecture of Aftermath, Terry Smith argues that it was no accident that these targets were buildings: architecture has long served as a symbol of proud, defiant power—and never more so than in the late twentieth century.
But after September 11, Smith asserts, late modern architecture suddenly seemed an indulgence. With close readings of key buildings—including Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House, Minoru Yamasaki’s World Trade Center, Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and Richard Meier’s Getty Center—Smith traces the growth of the spectacular architecture of modernity and then charts its aftermath in the conditions of contemporaneity. Indeed, Smith focuses on the very culture of aftermath itself, exploring how global politics, clashing cultures, and symbolic warfare have changed the way we experience destination architecture.
Like other artists everywhere, architects are responding to the idea of aftermath by questioning the viability of their forms and the validity of their purposes. With his richly illustrated The Architecture of Aftermath, Smith has done so as well.
Reyner Banham was a pioneer in arguing that technology, human needs, and environmental concerns must be considered an integral part of architecture. No historian before him had so systematically explored the impact of environmental engineering on the design of buildings and on the minds of architects. In this revision of his classic work, Banham has added considerable new material on the use of energy, particularly solar energy, in human environments. Included in the new material are discussions of Indian pueblos and solar architecture, the Centre Pompidou and other high-tech buildings, and the environmental wisdom of many current architectural vernaculars.
On August 13, 1961, under the cover of darkness, East German authorities sealed the border between East and West Berlin using a hastily constructed barbed wire fence. Over the next twenty-eight years of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall grew to become an ever-present physical and psychological divider in this capital city and a powerful symbol of Cold War tensions. Similarly, stark polarities arose in nearly every aspect of public and private life, including the built environment.
In Architecture, Politics, and Identity in Divided Berlin Emily Pugh provides an original comparative analysis of selected works of architecture and urban planning in both halves of Berlin during the Wall era, revealing the importance of these structures to the formation of political, cultural, and social identities. Pugh uncovers the roles played by organizations such as the Foundation for Prussian Cultural Heritage and the Building Academy in conveying the political narrative of their respective states through constructed spaces. She also provides an overview of earlier notable architectural works, to show the precursors for design aesthetics in Berlin at large, and considers projects in the post-Wall period, to demonstrate the ongoing effects of the Cold War.
Overall, Pugh offers a compelling case study of a divided city poised between powerful contending political and ideological forces, and she highlights the effort expended by each side to influence public opinion in Europe and around the World through the manipulation of the built environment.
Ariel and the Police
Frank Lentricchia University of Wisconsin Press, 1989 Library of Congress PS3537.T4753Z6746 1988 | Dewey Decimal 811.52
In Ariel and the Police, Frank Lentricchia searches through the totalizing desires for power that have built and help to maintain tangible and intangible structures of confinement and purification within, and sometimes as, the house of modernism. And what he finds, in his lyrical effort to redeem the subject for history, is that someone lives there, slyly, sometimes even playfully defiant.
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.
In The Art of Reading as a Way of Life: On Nietzsche’s Truth Daniel T. O’Hara traces critically the current reception and translation of Nietzsche’s corpus and then some of Nietzsche’s boldest textual experiments in the art of reading as a way of life, including those in The Birth of Tragedy, The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, The Anti-Christ, and Ecce Homo.
The shape of this critical tracing begins, however, in the middle of his career with The Gay Science andmoves on to Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which Nietzsche believed was the central work of his life. It then revalues Ecce Homo, Nietzsche’s final autobiographical statement about his life and career, and concludes with a comparative analysis of two works from the beginning and end of that career: respectively, The Birth of Tragedy and The Anti-Christ. O’Hara’s highly original study, which uses Badiou’s theory of the truth-event as a guide, will surely provoke larger conversations across many disciplines.
Although known primarily as the irreverent but dazzlingly witty playwright who penned The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde was also an able and farsighted critic. He was an early advocate of criticism as an independent branch of literature and stressed its vital role in the creative process. Scholars continue to debate many of Wilde's critical positions.
Included in Richard Ellmann's impressive collection of Wilde's criticism, The Artist as Critic, is a wide selection of Wilde's book reviews as well as such famous longer works as "The Portrait of Mr. W.H.," "The Soul Man under Socialism," and the four essays which make up Intentions. The Artist as Critic will satisfy any Wilde fan's yearning for an essential reading of his critical work.
"Wilde . . . emerges now as not only brilliant but also revolutionary, one of the great thinkers of dangerous thoughts."—Walter Allen, New York Times Book Review
"The best of Wilde's nonfictional prose can be found in The Artist as Critic."—Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World
In this bold interdisciplinary work, Geoffrey Galt Harpham argues that asceticism has played a major role in shaping Western ideas of the body, writing, ethics, and aesthetics. He suggests that we consider the ascetic as "the 'cultural' element in culture," and presents a close analysis of works by Athanasius, Augustine, Matthias, Grünewald, Nietzsche, Foucault, and other thinkers as proof of the extent of asceticism's resources. Harpham demonstrates the usefulness of his findings by deriving from asceticism a "discourse of resistance," a code of interpretation ultimately more generous and humane than those currently available to us.
Avant-Garde Performance and the Limits of Criticism looks at the American avant-garde during the Cold War period, focusing on the interrelated questions of performance practices, cultural resistance, and the politics of criticism and scholarship in the U.S. counterculture. It develops three case studies: the Living Theatre's influential production of Jack Gelber's The Connection, which subverted the historical and political assumptions of the War on Drugs, utilized cutting-edge jazz both formally and thematically, and inspired a generation of artists and activists to rethink the nature of community and communication; the earliest American performance art, namely the Happenings and Fluxus events, which responded in astounding ways to the avaricious movements of Cold War capitalism; and the Black Arts Movement, which brought about practical and theoretical innovations that effectively evade the conceptual categories of Euro-American philosophy and historiography.
Mike Sell's study is groundbreaking in its consideration of the avant-garde in relationship to a crucial but rarely considered agent: the scholar and critic. The book examines the role of the scholar and critic in the cultural struggles of radical artists and activists and reveals how avant-garde performance identifies the very limits of critical consideration. The book also explores the popularization of the avant-garde: how formerly subversive art is eventually discovered by the mass media, is gobbled up by the marketplace, and eventually finds its way onto the syllabi of college and university courses. Avant-Garde Performance and the Limits of Criticism is a timely and significant book that will become a standard reference for scholars in the fields of avant-garde literary criticism, theater history, critical theory, and performance studies.
"A provocative exploration of relations between the historical avant-garde and Cold War vanguard art and theatre. Sell's compelling historical and cultural narrative shows how the connections between the two exist at a very deep level of radical politics and aesthetics--an amazing concoction of rigorous scholarship, interdisciplinary learning, and progressive theorizing."
--Michael Vanden Heuvel, University of Wisconsin, Madison
"One of the most sophisticated, engaged, and engaging studies of the avant-garde in the United States that I've read-an important study that will raise the bar not only on scholarship of the Black Arts Movement, but on U.S. avant-gardism generally."
--James Smethurst, University of Massachusetts
A volume in the series Theater: Theory/Text/Performance. A list of recent titles in the series appears at the front of this volume.