Conjuring the Folk addresses the dynamic relation between metropolitan artistic culture and its popular referents during the Harlem Renaissance period. From Jean Toomer's conclusion that "the Negro of the folk-song has all but passed away" to Zora Neale Hurston's discovery of "a rich field for folk-lore" in a Florida lumber camp, Harlem Renaissance writers made competing claims about the vitality of the African-American "folk." These competing claims, David Nicholls explains, form the basis of a discordant conversation on the question of modernity in African America.
In a series of revisionary readings, Nicholls studies how the "folk" is shaped by the ideology of form. He examines the presence of a spectral "folk" in Toomer's modernist pastiche, Cane. He explores how Hurston presents folklore as a contemporary language of resistance in her ethnography, Mules and Men. In Claude McKay's naturalistic romance, Banana Bottom, Nicholls discovers the figuration of an alternative modernity in the heroine's recovery of her lost "folk" identity. He unearths the individualist ethos of Booker T. Washington in two novels by George Wylie Henderson. And he reveals how Richard Wright's photo-documentary history, 12 Million BlackVoices, places the "folk" in a Marxian narrative of modernization toward class-consciousness.
A provocative rereading of the cultural politics of the Harlem Renaissance, Conjuring the Folk offers a new way of understanding literary responses to migration, modernization, and the concept of the "folk" itself.
David G. Nicholls is a post-doctoral fellow in the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, University of Chicago.
This issue theorizes what questions of value might contribute to our understanding of sound and music. Divesting sound and music from notions of intrinsic value, the contributors follow various avenues through which sound and music produce value in and as history, politics, ethics, epistemology, and ontology. As a result, the very question of what sound and music are—what constitutes them, as well as what they constitute—is at stake. Contributors examine the politics of music and crowds, the metaphysics of sensation, the ecological turn in music studies, and the political resistance inherent to sound; connect Karl Marx to black music and slave labor; look at Marx, the Marx Brothers, and fetishism; and explore the tension between the voice of the Worker who confronts Capital head-on and the voices of actual workers.
Contributors: Amy Cimini, Bill Dietz, Jairo Moreno, Rosalind Morris, Ana María Ochoa Gautier, Ronald Radano, Gavin Steingo, Peter Szendy, Gary Tomlinson, Naomi Waltham-Smith
At once handbook, reader, and guide to the literary tastes and wisdom of poets, An Exaltation of Forms is an indispensable resource certain to find a dedicated audience among poetry lovers. The editors invited over fifty contemporary poets to select a poetic meter, stanza, or form, describe it, recount its history, and provide favorite examples. The essays represent a remarkably diverse range of literary styles and approaches, and show how the forms of contemporary English-language poetry derive from a wealth of different traditions.
The forms range from hendecasyllabics to prose poetry, haiku to procedural poetry, sonnets to blues, rap to fractal verse. The range of poets included is equally impressive--from Amiri Baraka to John Frederick Nims, from Maxine Kumin to Marilyn Hacker, from Agha Shahid Ali to Pat Mora, from W. D. Snodgrass to Charles Bernstein. Achieving this level of eclecticism is a remarkable feat, especially given the strong opinions held by members of the various camps (e.g., the New Formalists, LANGUAGE poets, feminist and multicultural poets) that exist within today's poetry community. Poets who might never occupy the same room here occupy the same pages, perhaps for the first time. The net effect is a book that will surprise, inform, and delight a wide range of readers, whether as reference book, pleasure reading, or classroom text.
Poet, translator, and critic Annie Finch is director of the Stonecoast low-residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. She is author of The Ghost of Meter: Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse, Eve, and Calendars. She is the winner of the eleventh annual Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award for scholars who have made a lasting contribution to the art and science of versification.
Kathrine Varnes teaches English at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She is the author of the book of poems, The Paragon. Her poems and essays have appeared in many books and journals.
The relationship between the existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre and the post-structuralist Jecques Derrida has never been fully examined until now. In Forms in the Abyss, Steve Martinot finds, between these two important philosophical thinkers of the twentieth century, "a common uncommonality" by which he sees them confront each other as "kindred souls" despite their vast differences.
Martinot argues that a bridge between these two thinkers can be constructed. He demonstrates that one can use the critical tools provided by Derrida, and the forms of discourse and reasoning developed by Sartre, to set the two in dialogue with each other. In the process, Martinot develops a theory of dialogue that incorporates both ethics and form and contributes a new way of thinking about critical and social theory. More importantly, he adds a new ethical and political imperative to postmodern thought that many dritics have often found missing in the works of thinkers like Derrida.
In today's connected and interactive world, it is hard to imagine a time when cultural and intellectual interests did not lead people to associate with others who shared similar views and preoccupations. In this volume of essays, fifteen scholars explore how these kinds of relationships began to transform early modern European culture.
Forms of Association grows out of the "Making Publics: Media, Markets, and Association in Early Modern Europe" (MaPs) project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. This scholarly initiative convened an interdisciplinary research team to consider how "publics"—new forms of association built on the shared interests of individuals—developed in Europe from 1500 to 1700. Drawing on a wide array of texts and histories, including the plays of Shakespeare, the legend of Robin Hood, paintings, and music as well as English gossip about France, the contributors develop a historical account of what publics were in early modern Europe. This collaborative study provides a dynamic way of understanding the political dimensions of artistic and intellectual works and opens the way toward a new history of early modernity.
Until his death in 2008, the great Renaissance scholar Richard Helgerson was a key participant in the MaPs project. The scholars featured in this volume originally met in Montreal to engage in a critical, commemorative conversation about Helgerson's work, the issues and questions coming out of the MaPs project, and how Helgerson's thinking advanced and could in turn be advanced by MaPs. This collection represents the fruits of that conversation.
Sir Frank Kermode, the British scholar, instructor, and author, was an inspired critic. Forms of Attention is based on a series of three lectures he gave on canon formation, or how we choose what art to value. The essay on Botticelli traces the artist’s sudden popularity in the nineteenth century for reasons that have more to do with poetry than painting. In the second essay, Kermode reads Hamlet from a very modern angle, offering a useful (and playful) perspective for a contemporary audience. The final essay is a defense of literary criticism as a process and conversation that, while often conflating knowledge with opinion, keeps us reading great art and working with—and for—literature.
With Forms of Discover, Yvor Winters completes his critical canon. The distinguished poet-critic defines by analysis and example the development of the method that he has called “post-Symbolist.”
Starting with the styles of the English Renaissance, Winters discusses at length the felicities and shortcomings of these traditions, the main defect being that sensory imagery was little more than ornament. This sets the problem: to discover a style wherein both the conceptual and the perceptual are given their fullest expression
In the work of Charles Churchill, Winters explores the development of a complexly controlled associational procedure. Here is a richly varied conceptual method, though the sensory is still almost totally absent.
Churchill’s methods and those of the Renaissance masters are then contrasted with the work of the Romantics, who wrote a great deal about nature without bothering to look at it, and whose most lasting contribution would appear to be pathetically sentimental fallacies.
The turn of the century, in France, Britain, and America, sees the beginning of the post-Symbolist methods, while Yeats continues the retrograde movement of the Romantics. It is in the work of poets like Tuckerman, Hardy, Bridges, Stevens, T. Sturge Moore, and Paul Valéry that rational discourse combines richly with the perceptual universe in which we live: the particular perception is enhance by reference to general concepts, the general given substance by the particular exemplifying it.
The post-Symbolist methods result in a poetry that unifies the diverse fields of human experience and employs all aspects of language.
Style in Winters’ sense is not simply a way of gracefully combining words. It is the way a man lives, the method or art wherein he discovers to the best of his ability the real nature of the world in which he lives. It is in this sense that Forms of Discovery is a philosophical work, not a miscellaneous collection of essays; this book is, as Winters remarks, “an act of piety, not an act of destruction.”
Expanding the boundaries of both genre and gender, contemporary American women are writing long poems in a variety of styles that repossess history, reconceive female subjectivity, and revitalize poetry itself. In the first book devoted to long poems by women, Lynn Keller explores this rich and evolving body of work, offering revealing discussions of the diverse traditions and feminist concerns addressed by poets ranging from Rita Dove and Sharon Doubiago to Judy Grahn, Marilyn Hacker, and Susan Howe.
Arguing that women poets no longer feel intimidated by the traditional associations of long poems with the heroic, public realm or with great artistic ambition, Keller shows how the long poem's openness to sociological, anthropological, and historical material makes it an ideal mode for exploring women's roles in history and culture. In addition, the varied forms of long poems—from sprawling free verse epics to regular sonnet sequences to highly disjunctive experimental collages—make this hybrid genre easily adaptable to diverse visions of feminism and of contemporary poetics.
In the past two decades, scholars have transformed our understanding of the interactions between India and the West since the consolidation of British power on the subcontinent around 1800. While acknowledging the merits of this scholarship, Sheldon Pollock argues that knowing how colonialism changed South Asian cultures, particularly how Western modes of thought became dominant, requires knowing what was there to be changed. Yet little is known about the history of knowledge and imagination in late precolonial South Asia, about what systematic forms of thought existed, how they worked, or who produced them. This pioneering collection of essays helps to rectify this situation by addressing the ways thinkers in India and Tibet responded to a rapidly changing world in the three centuries prior to 1800. Contributors examine new forms of communication and conceptions of power that developed across the subcontinent; changing modes of literary consciousness, practices, and institutions in north India; unprecedented engagements in comparative religion, autobiography, and ethnography in the Indo-Persian sphere; and new directions in disciplinarity, medicine, and geography in Tibet. Taken together, the essays in Forms of Knowledge in Early Modern Asia inaugurate the exploration of a particularly complex intellectual terrain, while gesturing toward distinctive forms of non-Western modernity.
Contributors. Muzaffar Alam, Imre Bangha, Aditya Behl, Allison Busch, Sumit Guha, Janet Gyatso, Matthew T. Kapstein, Françoise Mallison, Sheldon Pollock, Velcheru Narayana Rao, Kurtis R. Schaeffer, Sunil Sharma, David Shulman, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi
In Forms of Modern British Fiction six individualistic and strongminded critics delineate the "age of modernism" in British fiction. Dating the age and the movement from later Hardy works through the deaths of Joyce and Woolf, they present British fiction as a cohesive, self-contained unit of literary history. Hardy appears as the first of the modern British novelists, Lawrence as the central, and Joyce and Woolf as the last. The writers and the modern movement are framed by precursors, such as Galsworthy, and by successors, Durrell, Beckett, and Henry Green—the postmoderns. The pattern of the essays suggests a growing self-consciousness on the part of twentieth-century writers as they seek not only to refine their predecessors but also to deny (and sometimes obliterate) them. The moderns thus deny the novel itself, a genre once firmly rooted in history and forms of social life. Their works do not assume that comfortable mimetic relationship between the fictive realities of art and life. Consequently, there has now evolved a poetics of the novel that is virtually identifiable with modern fiction, a poetics still highly problematical in its attempt to denote a medium in whose name eclectic innovativeness and incessant revitalizing are proclaimed. Forms of Modern British Fiction refines and advances the discussion of the modern novel and the world it and we inhabit.
What have poems and maps, law books and plays, ecclesiastical polemics and narratives of overseas exploration to do with one another? By most accounts, very little. They belong to different genres and have been appropriated by scholars in different disciplines. But, as Richard Helgerson shows in this ambitious and wide-ranging study, all were part of an extraordinary sixteenth- and seventeenth-century enterprise: the project of making England.
What is the relationship between a cinematic grid of color and that most visceral of negative affects, disgust? How might anxiety be a matter of an interrupted horizontal line, or grief a figure of blazing light?
Offering a bold corrective to the emphasis on embodiment and experience in recent affect theory, Eugenie Brinkema develops a novel mode of criticism that locates the forms of particular affects within the specific details of cinematic and textual construction. Through close readings of works by Roland Barthes, Hollis Frampton, Sigmund Freud, Peter Greenaway, Michael Haneke, Alfred Hitchcock, Søren Kierkegaard, and David Lynch, Brinkema shows that deep attention to form, structure, and aesthetics enables a fundamental rethinking of the study of sensation. In the process, she delves into concepts as diverse as putrescence in French gastronomy, the role of the tear in philosophies of emotion, Nietzschean joy as a wild aesthetic of repetition, and the psychoanalytic theory of embarrassment. Above all, this provocative work is a call to harness the vitality of the affective turn for a renewed exploration of the possibilities of cinematic form.
In this study of space and power and knowledge in France from the 1830s through the 1930s, Rabinow uses the tools of anthropology, philosophy, and cultural criticism to examine how social environment was perceived and described. Ranging from epidemiology to the layout of colonial cities, he shows how modernity was revealed in urban planning, architecture, health and welfare administration, and social legislation.
For more than 1500 years, from the Indian subcontinent to the islands of the Indonesian archipelago, the temple has embodied and symbolized the Hindu worldview at its deepest level and inspired the greatest architectural and artistic achievements in Hindu Asia. In The Hindu Temple, considered the standard introduction to the subject, George Michell explains the cultural, religious, and architectural significance of the temple. He illustrates his points with a profusion of photographs, building plans, and drawings of architectural details, making the book a useful guide for travelers to Asia as well as an illuminating text for students of architecture, religion, and Asian civilizations.
Michell's discussion of the meaning and forms of the temple in Hindu society encompasses the awe-inspiring rock-cut temples at Ellora and Elephanta, the soaring superstructures and extraordinary sexual exhibitionism of the sculptures at Khajuraho, and the colossal mortuary temple of Angkor Vat, as well as the tiny iconic shrines that many Hindus wear around their necks and the simple shrines found under trees or near ponds.
Margaret Atwood: Vision and Forms
Edited by Kathryn Van Spanckeren and Jan Garden Castro. Foreword by Margaret Atwood Southern Illinois University Press, 1988 Library of Congress PR9199.3.A8Z76 1988 | Dewey Decimal 818.5409
A prolific writer and versatile social critic, Canadian novelist and poet Margaret Atwood has recently published Bluebeard’s Egg (short stories), Interlunar (poetry), and The Handmaid’s Tale a critically acclaimed best-selling novel.
This international collection of essays evaluates the complete body of her work—both the acclaimed fiction and the innovative poetry. The critics represented here—American, Australian, and Canadian—address Atwood’s handling of such themes as feminism, ecology, the gothic novel, and the political relationship between Canada and the United States.
The essays on Atwood’s novels introduce the general reader to her development as a writer, as she matures from a basically subjective, poetic vision, seen in Surfacing and The Edible Woman, to an increasingly engaged, political stance, exemplified by The Handmaid’s Tale. Other essays examine Atwood’s poetry, from her transformation of the Homeric model to her criticisms of the United States’ relationship with Canada. The last two critical essays offer a unique view of Atwood through an investigation of her use of the concept of shamanism and through a presentation of eight of her vivid watercolors.
The volume ends with Atwood presenting her own views in an interview with Jan Garden Castro and in a conversation between Atwood and students at the University of Tampa, Florida.
The German art historian and critic Carl Einstein (1885-1940) was at the forefront of the modernist movement that defined the twentieth century. One of the most prolific and brilliant early commentators on cubism, he was also among the first authors to assess African sculpture as art. Yet his writings remain relatively little known in the Anglophone world. With A Mythology of Forms, the first representative collection of Einstein’s art theory and criticism to appear in English translation, Charles W. Haxthausen fills this gap. Spanning three decades, it assembles the most important of Einstein’s writings on the art that was central to his critical project—on cubism, surrealism, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Paul Klee, and includes the full texts of his two pathbreaking books on African art, Negro Sculpture (1915) and African Sculpture (1921). With fourteen texts by Einstein, each presented with extensive commentary, A Mythology of Forms will bring a pivotal voice in the history of modern art into English.
Navajo Architecture may well be the most complete study to date of the folk architecture of a tribal society. Enhanced by nearly 200 photographs and drawings, the book explores the whole range of a Native American tradition as it has evolved through the present day—and is already yielding to modernization.
Stephen C. Jett and Virginia E. Spencer have devoted years of fieldwork to studying the origin, evolution, and construction of Navajo buildings: not only hogans, houses, and summer dwellings, but also numerous other structures related to activities such as food preparation, hunting, sweat-bathing, and funerary observation. In addition, they have defined the geographic distribution of dwelling forms to reveal both utilization of local resources and local differences in degree of acculturation.
Plumbing what the poet Michael Palmer calls “the dimension of the Spirit, with that troublesome, rebarbative capital letter,” Norman Finkelstein’s On Mount Vision asks how and why the sacred has remained a basic concern of contemporary experimental poets in our secular age. By charting the wandering, together and apart, of poetry and belief, Finkelstein illustrates the rich tapestry formed by the warp and woof of poetry, and the play of Gnosticism, antinomianism, spiritualism, and shamanism, which have commonly been regarded as heretical and sometimes been outright suppressed.
This beautifully written work begins with an overview of the spiritual problematics found in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American poetry. Traveling slightly outside of the realm of the contemporary, Finkelstein’s discussions of Emerson, Whitman, and Eliot yield to close readings of the works of Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, Ronald Johnson, Michael Palmer, Susan Howe, Nathaniel Mackey, and Armand Schwerner. In restoring verse to its place alongside scripture, Finkelstein reminds us why the sacred remains crucial to our understanding of postmodern American poetry.
In literary studies today, debates about the purpose of literary criticism and about the place of formalism within it continue to simmer across periods and approaches. Anna Kornbluh contributes to—and substantially shifts—that conversation in The Order of Forms by offering an exciting new category, political formalism, which she articulates through the co-emergence of aesthetic and mathematical formalisms in the nineteenth century. Within this framework, criticism can be understood as more affirmative and constructive, articulating commitments to aesthetic expression and social collectivity.
Kornbluh offers a powerful argument that political formalism, by valuing forms of sociability like the city and the state in and of themselves, provides a better understanding of literary form and its political possibilities than approaches that view form as a constraint. To make this argument, she takes up the case of literary realism, showing how novels by Dickens, Brontë, Hardy, and Carroll engage mathematical formalism as part of their political imagining. Realism, she shows, is best understood as an exercise in social modeling—more like formalist mathematics than social documentation. By modeling society, the realist novel focuses on what it considers the most elementary features of social relations and generates unique political insights. Proposing both this new theory of realism and the idea of political formalism, this inspired, eye-opening book will have far-reaching implications in literary studies.
Philosopher Terry Pinkard revisits Sartre’s later work, illuminating a pivotal stance in Sartre’s understanding of freedom and communal action.
Jean-Paul Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason, released to great fanfare in 1960, has since then receded in philosophical visibility. As Sartre’s reputation is now making a comeback, it is time for a reappraisal of his later work. In Practice, Power, and Forms of Life, philosopher Terry Pinkard interprets Sartre’s late work as a fundamental reworking of his earlier ideas, especially in terms of his understanding of the possibility of communal action as genuinely free, which the French philosopher had previously argued was impossible.
Pinkard reveals how Sartre was drawn back to Hegel, a move that was itself incited by Sartre’s newfound interest in Marxism. Pinkard argues that Sartre constructed a novel position on freedom that has yet to be adequately taken up and analyzed within philosophy and political theory. Through Sartre, Pinkard advances an argument that contributes to the history of philosophy as well as key debates on action and freedom.
Explores pioneering works of digital poetry and demonstrates how technological constraints that would seemingly limit the aesthetics of poetry have instead extended and enriched poetic discourse
For the last five decades, poets have had a vibrant relationship with computers and digital technology. This book is a documentary study and analytic history of digital poetry that highlights its major practitioners and the ways that they have used technology to foster a new aesthetic. Focusing primarily on programs and experiments produced before the emergence of the World Wide Web in the mid-1990s, C. T. Funkhouser analyzes numerous landmark works of digital poetry to illustrate that the foundations of today’s most advanced works are rooted in the rudimentary generative, visual, and interlinked productions of the genre’s prehistoric period.
Since 1959, computers have been used to produce several types of poetic output, including randomly generated writings, graphical works (static, animated, and video formats), and hypertext and hypermedia. Funkhouser demonstrates how hardware, programming, and software have been used to compose a range of new digital poetic forms. Several dozen historical examples, drawn from all of the predominant approaches to digital poetry, are discussed, highlighting the transformational and multi-faceted aspects of poetic composition now available to authors. This account
includes many works, in English and other languages, which have never before been presented in an English-language publication.
In exploring pioneering works of digital poetry, Funkhouser demonstrates how technological constraints that would seemingly limit the aesthetics of poetry have instead extended and enriched poetic discourse. As a history of early digital poetry and a record of an era that has passed, this study aspires both to influence poets working today and to highlight what the future of digital poetry may hold.
In Racial Things, Racial Forms, Joseph Jonghyun Jeon focuses on a coterie of underexamined contemporary Asian American poets—Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Myung Mi Kim, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, and John Yau—who reject many of the characteristics of traditional minority writing, in particular the language of identity politics, which tends to challenge political marginalization without contesting more fundamental assumptions about the construction of racial form. In the poets’ various treatments of things (that is, objects of art), one witnesses a confluence of heretofore discrete factors: the avant-garde interest in objecthood and the racial question of objectification.
By refashioning avant-garde investigations of things into questions about how American discourse visualizes race in and on the body, these poets implicitly critique dominant modes of racial visibility, seeking alternatives to the unreflective stances that identity politics often unwittingly reproduces. At the heart of Jeon’s project is the assumption thatracial form is continually recalibrated to elide ideological ambiguities and ambivalences in contemporary culture. Thus, rather than focusing exclusively on the subject—on interiority and individual experience—Racial Things, Racial Forms also uses the calculated strangeness of the avant-garde art object as an occasion to emphasize the physical and visual oddness of racial constructs, as a series of everchanging, contemporary phenomena that are in conversation with, but not entirely determined by, their historical legacy.
In this critical study, Jeon argues that by invoking the foreignness of an avant-garde art object as a way to understand racial otherness, these writers model the possibility of a post-identity, racial politics that challenges how race is fundamentally visualized. In addition to appealing to those interested in Asian American studies and race in American literature, Racial Things, Racial Forms addresses readers interested in contemporary poetry, art, and visual culture, paying particular attention to the intersections between literary and visual art.
Rainer Maria Rilke was first published in 1958. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke died in 1926, and interest in his poetry has been mounting ever since. The winds of fashion, taste, or personal bias have shifted several times to affect his audience of readers. There have been, according to previous Rilke criticism, not one but many Rilkes. Thus the critics have pointed to the "early Rilke" and the "late Rilke," to the Prague poet, the Paris poet, and the Muzot poet.
Now, in a fresh approach yet one which takes full cognizance of the varying viewpoints and conflicting purposes of earlier criticism, Professor Wood carefully examines Rilke's entire poetic output. The major concern here is with the poetry itself rather than with the biographical, psychological, or philosophical questions which have dominated most previous criticism.
Through a close textual analysis of the poems, Professor Wood demonstrates that the whole body of Rilke's writing, from beginning to end, is thoroughly interrelated and interdependent. As he points out, many more published materials, both posthumous verse and correspondence, are available now than in the earlier periods of Rilke's fame, a situation which adds significance to this new evaluation.
In addition to analyzing Rilke's own poetry, Professor Wood shows the links between Rilke and such contemporary poets and writers as Gide, Proust, T.S. Eliot, and Yeats.
The excerpts quoted from Rilke's poetry are given both in the original German text and in standard English translation.
Between 1960 and 2010, a new generation of British avant-garde theater companies, directors, designers, and performers emerged. Some of these companies and individuals have endured to become part of theater history while others have disappeared from the scene, mutated into new forms, or become part of the establishment. Reverberations across Small-Scale British Theatre at long last puts these small-scale British theater companies and personalities in the scholarly spotlight. By questioning what “Britishness” meant in relation to the small-scale work of these practitioners, contributors articulate how it is reflected in the goals, manifestos, and aesthetics of these companies.
The university system, both in America and abroad, has always claimed a universal significance for its research and educational models. At the same time, many universities, particularly in Europe, have also claimed another role—as custodians of national culture. Transnational Intellectual Networks explores this apparent contradiction and its resulting intellectual tensions with illuminating essays that span the nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century nationalization movements in Europe through the postwar era.
In The Wedding Complex Elizabeth Freeman explores the significance of the wedding ceremony by asking what the wedding becomes when you separate it from the idea of marriage. Freeman finds that weddings—as performances, fantasies, and rituals of transformation—are sites for imagining and enacting forms of social intimacy other than monogamous heterosexuality. Looking at the history of Anglo-American weddings and their depictions in American literature and popular culture from the antebellum era to the present, she reveals the cluster of queer desires at the heart of the "wedding complex"—longings not for marriage necessarily but for public forms of attachment, ceremony, pageantry, and celebration.
Freeman draws on queer theory and social history to focus on a range of texts where weddings do not necessarily lead to legal marriage but instead reflect yearnings for intimate arrangements other than long-term, state-sanctioned, domestic couplehood. Beginning with a look at the debates over gay marriage, she proceeds to consider literary works by Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Faulkner, Carson McCullers, Vladimir Nabokov, and Edgar Allan Poe, along with such Hollywood films as Father of the Bride, The Graduate, and The Godfather. She also discusses less well-known texts such as Su Friedrich’s experimental film First Comes Love and the off-Broadway, interactive dinner play Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding.
Offering bold new ways to imagine attachment and belonging, and the public performance and recognition of social intimacy, The Wedding Complex is a major contribution to American studies, queer theory, and cultural studies.