At the heart of poetic tradition is a figure of abandonment, a woman forsaken and out of control. She appears in writings ancient and modern, in the East and the West, in high art and popular culture produced by women and by men. What accounts for her perennial fascination? What is her function—in poems and for writers? Lawrence Lipking suggests many possibilities. In this figure he finds a partial record of women's experience, an instrument for the expression of religious love and yearning, a voice for psychological fears, and, finally, a model for the poet. Abandoned women inspire new ways of reading poems and poetic tradition.
Medievalists have long been interested in the "abandoned woman," a figure historically used to examine the value of traditional male heroism. Moving beyond previous studies which have focused primarily on Virgil's Dido, Suzanne Hagedorn focuses on the vernacular works of Dante, Bocaccio, and Chaucer, arguing that revisiting the classical tradition of the abandoned woman enables one to reconsider ancient epics and myths from a female perspective and question assumptions about gender roles in medieval literature.
Abandoning the Black Hero is the first book to examine the postwar African American white-life novel—novels with white protagonists written by African Americans. These fascinating works have been understudied despite having been written by such defining figures in the tradition as Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Ann Petry, and Chester Himes, as well as lesser known but formerly best-selling authors Willard Motley and Frank Yerby.
John C. Charles argues that these fictions have been overlooked because they deviate from two critical suppositions: that black literature is always about black life and that when it represents whiteness, it must attack white supremacy. The authors are, however, quite sympathetic in the treatment of their white protagonists, which Charles contends should be read not as a failure of racial pride but instead as a strategy for claiming creative freedom, expansive moral authority, and critical agency.
In an era when “Negro writers” were expected to protest, their sympathetic treatment of white suffering grants these authors a degree of racial privacy previously unavailable to them. White writers, after all, have the privilege of racial privacy because they are never pressured to write only about white life. Charles reveals that the freedom to abandon the “Negro problem” encouraged these authors to explore a range of new genres and themes, generating a strikingly diverse body of novels that significantly revise our understanding of mid-twentieth-century black writing.
A hard-hitting look at the regulation of sexual difference and its role in circumscribing African American culture.
The sociology of race relations in America typically describes an intersection of poverty, race, and economic discrimination. But what is missing from the picture--sexual difference--can be as instructive as what is present. In this ambitious work, Roderick A. Ferguson reveals how the discourses of sexuality are used to articulate theories of racial difference in the field of sociology. He shows how canonical sociology--Gunnar Myrdal, Ernest Burgess, Robert Park, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and William Julius Wilson--has measured African Americans' unsuitability for a liberal capitalist order in terms of their adherence to the norms of a heterosexual and patriarchal nuclear family model. In short, to the extent that African Americans' culture and behavior deviated from those norms, they would not achieve economic and racial equality.
Aberrations in Black tells the story of canonical sociology's regulation of sexual difference as part of its general regulation of African American culture. Ferguson places this story within other stories--the narrative of capital's emergence and development, the histories of Marxism and revolutionary nationalism, and the novels that depict the gendered and sexual idiosyncrasies of African American culture--works by Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and Toni Morrison. In turn, this book tries to present another story--one in which people who presumably manifest the dysfunctions of capitalism are reconsidered as indictments of the norms of state, capital, and social science. Ferguson includes the first-ever discussion of a new archival discovery--a never-published chapter of Invisible Man that deals with a gay character in a way that complicates and illuminates Ellison's project.
Unique in the way it situates critiques of race, gender, and sexuality within analyses of cultural, economic, and epistemological formations, Ferguson's work introduces a new mode of discourse--which Ferguson calls queer of color analysis--that helps to lay bare the mutual distortions of racial, economic, and sexual portrayals within sociology.
Roderick A. Ferguson is assistant professor of American studies at the University of Minnesota.
In recent years, public debate has raged over the issue of maternal choice. While personal testimony and political argument have received widespread attention, artistic representations of birth and abortion have been submerged. Judith Wilt offers the first look at how contemporary writers tell and retell the stories that shape our perceptions about abortion. She reveals that the struggle to plot these painful, complex narratives of choice, control, guilt, loss, and liberation has preoccupied an astonishing number of our most distinguished novelists, male and female alike. Readers of twentieth-century novels are more likely to encounter plots centered on maternal choice than those dealing with the more traditional problems of courtship and marriage.
In the opening of the book, Wilt discusses real case histories of several women. After studying the ambiguities of their decisions, she turns to their counterpoints depicted in contemporary fiction. Working from a feminist perspective, Wilt traces the theme of maternal choice in works by Margaret Atwood, Margaret Drabble, Joan Didion, Mary Gordon, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Marge Piercy, Thomas Keneally, Graham Swift, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, John Barth, John Irving, and others.
Behind the political, medical, and moral debates on abortion, Wilt argues, is a profound psychocultural shock at the recognition that maternity is passing from the domain of instinct to that of conscious choice. Although never wholly instinctual, maternity's potential capture by consciousness raises complex questions. The novels Wilt discusses portray worlds in which principles are endangered by sexual inequality, male power and hidden male fear of abandonment, impotence, female submission, and covert rage, and, in the case of black maternity, the hideous aftermath of slavery.
Wilt provides a resonant new context for debates—whether political or personal—on the issue of abortion and maternal choice. Ultimately she enables us to rethink how we shape our own identities and lives.
Above the American Renaissance takes David S. Reynolds's classic study Beneath the American Renaissance as a model and a provocation to consider how language and concepts broadly defined as spiritual are essential to understanding nineteenth-century American literary culture. In the 1980s, Reynolds's scholarship and methodology enlivened investigations of religious culture, and since then, for reasons that include a rising respect for interdisciplinarity and the aftershocks of the 9/11 attacks, religion in literature has become a major area of inquiry for Americanists. In essays that reconsider and contextualize Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Herman Melville, Abraham Lincoln, and others, this volume captures the vibrancy of spiritual considerations in American literary studies and points a way forward within literary and spiritual investigations.
In addition to the editors and David S. Reynolds, contributors include Jeffrey Bilbro, Dawn Coleman, Jonathan A. Cook, Tracy Fessenden, Zachary Hutchins, Richard Kopley, Mason I. Lowance Jr., John Matteson, Christopher N. Phillips, Vivian Pollak, Michael Robertson, Gail K. Smith, Claudia Stokes, and Timothy Sweet.
In Above Time, James R. Guthrie explores the origins of the two preeminent transcendentalists' revolutionary approaches to time, as well as to the related concepts of history, memory, and change. Most critical discussions of this period neglect the important truth that the entire American transcendentalist project involved a transcendence of temporality as well as of materiality. Correspondingly, both writers call in their major works for temporal reform, to be achieved primarily by rejecting the past and future in order to live in an amplified present moment.
Emerson and Thoreau were compelled to see time in a new light by concurrent developments in the sciences and the professions. Geologists were just then hotly debating the age of the earth, while zoologists were beginning to unravel the mysteries of speciation, and archaeologists were deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphs. These discoveries worked collectively to enlarge the scope of time, thereby helping pave the way for the appearance of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859.
Well aware of these wider cultural developments, Emerson and Thoreau both tried (although with varying degrees of success) to integrate contemporary scientific thought with their preexisting late-romantic idealism. As transcendentalists, they already believed in the existence of "correspondences"—affinities between man and nature, formalized as symbols. These symbols could then be decoded to discover the animating presence in the world of eternal laws as pervasive as the laws of science. Yet unlike scientists, Emerson and Thoreau hoped to go beyond merely understanding nature to achieving a kind of passionate identity with it, and they believed that such a union might be achieved only if time was first recognized as being a purely human construct with little or no validity in the rest of the natural world. Consequently, both authors employ a series of philosophical, rhetorical, and psychological strategies designed to jolt their readers out of time, often by attacking received cultural notions about temporality.
As the first African-American fiction writer to achieve a national reputation, Ohio native Charles W. Chesnutt (1858–1932) in many ways established the terms of the black literary tradition now exemplified by such writers as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Charles Johnson.
Following the highly autobiographical nonfiction produced by Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, and other slave narrative writers, Chesnutt’s complex, multi-layered short fiction transformed the relationship between African-American writers and their readers. But despite generous praise from W. D. Howells and other important critics of his day, and from such prominent readers as William L. Andrews, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Eric Sundquist in ours, Chesnutt occupies a curiously ambiguous place in American literary history.
In The Absent Man, Charles Duncan demonstrates that Chesnutt’s uneasy position in the American literary tradition can be traced to his remarkable narrative subtlety. Profoundly aware of the delicacy of his situation as a black intellectual at the turn of the century, Chesnutt infused his work with an intricate, enigmatic artistic vision that defies monolithic or unambiguously political interpretation, especially with regard to issues of race and identity that preoccupied him throughout his career.
In this first book-length study of the innovative short fiction, Duncan devotes particular attention to elucidating these sophisticated narrative strategies as the grounding for Chesnutt’s inauguration of a tradition of African-American fiction.
As the first African-American fiction writer to achieve a national reputation, Ohio native Charles W. Chesnutt (1858—1932) in many ways established the terms of the black literary tradition now exemplified by such writers as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Charles Johnson.
Following the highly autobiographical nonfiction produced by Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, and other slave narrative writers, Chesnutt's complex, multi-layered short fiction transformed the relationship between African-American writers and their readers. But despite generous praise from W. D. Howells and other important critics of his day, and from such prominent readers as William L. Andrews, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Eric Sundquist in ours, Chesnutt occupies a curiously ambiguous place in American literary history.
In The Absent Man, Charles Duncan demonstrates that Chesnutt's uneasy position in the American literary tradition can be traced to his remarkable narrative subtlety. Profoundly aware of the delicacy of his situation as a black intellectual at the turn of the century, Chesnutt infused his work with an intricate, enigmatic artistic vision that defies monolithic or unambiguously political interpretation, especially with regard to issues of race and identity that preoccupied him throughout his career.
In this first book-length study of the innovative short fiction, Duncan devotes particular attention to elucidating these sophisticated narrative strategies as the grounding for Chesnutt's inauguration of a tradition of African-American fiction.
In Absolutist Attachments, Chloé Hogg uncovers the affective and media connections that shaped Louis XIV’s absolutism. Studying literature, painting, engravings, correspondence, and the emerging periodic press, Hogg diagnoses the emotions that created absolutism’s feeling subjects and publics.
Louis XIV’s subjects explored new kinds of affective relations with their sovereign, joining with the king in acts of aesthetic judgment, tender feeling, or the “newsiness” of emerging print news culture. Such alternative modes of adhesion countered the hegemonic model of kingship upheld by divine right, reason of state, or corporate fidelities and privileges with subject-driven attachments and practices. Absolutist Attachments discovers absolutism’s alternative political and cultural legacy—not the spectacle of an unbound king but the binding connections of his subjects.
In the last decade, F. W. J. von Schelling has emerged as one of the key philosophers of German Idealism, the one who, for the first time, undermined Kant's philosophical revolution and in so doing opened up the way for a viable critique of Hegel. In noted philosopher Slavoj Zizek's view, the main orientations of the post-Hegelian thought, from Kierkegaard and Marx, to Heidegger and today's deconstructionism, were prefigured in Schelling's analysis of Hegel's idealism, and in his affirmation that the contingency of existence cannot be reduced to notional self-mediation. In The Abyss of Freedom, Zizek attempts to advance Schelling's stature even further, with a commentary of the second draft of Schelling's work The Ages of the World, written in 1813.
Zizek argues that Schelling's most profound thoughts are found in the series of three consecutive attempts he made to formulate the "ages of the world/Weltalter," the stages of the self-development of the Absolute. Of the three versions, claims Zizek, it is the second that is the most eloquent and definitive encompassing of Schelling's lyrical thought. It centers on the problem of how the Absolute (God) himself, in order to become actual, to exist effectively, has to accomplish a radically contingent move of acquiring material, bodily existence. Never before available in English, this version finally renders accessible one of the key texts of modern philosophy, a text that is widely debated in philosophical circles today.
The Abyss of Freedom is Zizek's own reading of Schelling based upon Lacanian psychoanalytic theory. It focuses on the notion that Lacan's theory--which claims that the symbolic universe emerged from presymbolic drives--is prefigured in Schelling's idea of logos as given birth to from the vortex of primordial drives, or from what "in God is not yet God." For Zizek, this connection is monumental, showing that Schelling's ideas forcefully presage the post-modern "deconstruction" of logocentrism.
Slavoj Zizek is not a philosopher who stoops to conquer objects but a radical voice who believes that philosophy is nothing if it is not embodied, nothing if it is only abstract. For him, true philosophy always speaks of something rather than nothing. Those interested in the genesis of contemporary thought and the fate of reason in our "age of anxiety" will find this coupling of texts not only philosophically relevant, but vitally important.
Slavoj Zizek is the author of The Sublime Object of Ideology, Tarrying with the Negative: Kant, Hegel and the Critique of Ideology, and most recently, The Indivisible Remainder: An Essay on Schelling and Related Matters. Currently he is a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana. Judith Norman is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.
Pascal Quignard Seagull Books, 2015 Library of Congress PQ2677.U486A6413 2015
Prolific essayist, translator, and critic Pascal Quignard has described his Last Kingdom series as something unique. It consists, he says, “neither of philosophical argumentation, nor short learned essays, nor novelistic narration,” but comes, rather, from a phase of his work in which the very concept of genre has been allowed to fall away, leaving an entirely modern, secular, and abnormal vision of the world.
In Abysses, the newest addition to the series, Quignard brings us yet more of his troubling, questing characters—souls who are fascinated by what preceded and conceived them. He writes with a rich mix of anecdote and reflection, aphorism and quotation, offering enigmatic glimpses of the present, and confident, pointed borrowings from the past. But when he raids the murkier corners of the human record, he does so not as a historian but as an antiquarian. Quignard is most interested in pursuit of those stories that repeat and echo across the seasons in their timelessness.
Praise for Quignard “Quignard is undoubtedly the most iconoclastic of contemporary French authors.”—Catherine Argand, Lire
Academic Ableism brings together disability studies and institutional critique to recognize the ways that disability is composed in and by higher education, and rewrites the spaces, times, and economies of disability in higher education to place disability front and center. For too long, argues Jay Timothy Dolmage, disability has been constructed as the antithesis of higher education, often positioned as a distraction, a drain, a problem to be solved. The ethic of higher education encourages students and teachers alike to accentuate ability, valorize perfection, and stigmatize anything that hints at intellectual, mental, or physical weakness, even as we gesture toward the value of diversity and innovation. Examining everything from campus accommodation processes, to architecture, to popular films about college life, Dolmage argues that disability is central to higher education, and that building more inclusive schools allows better education for all.
This brilliantly argued book is an entirely fresh critique of the postmodern turn. David Simpson sets his sights on the most distinctive aspects of postmodern scholarship: the pervasiveness of the literary and the flight from grand theory to local knowledge.
Simpson examines defining features of postmodern thought—storytelling, autobiography, anecdote, and localism—and traces their unacknowledged roots in literature and literary criticism. Considering such examples as the conversational turn in philosophy led by Richard Rorty and the anecdotal qualities of the New Historicism, he argues that much of contemporary scholarship is literary in its terms, methods, and assumptions about knowledge; in their often unconscious adoption of literary approaches, scholars in philosophy, history, anthropology, and other disciplines have confined themselves to a traditional—and limited—way of looking at the world. Simpson is the first to uncover the largely unacknowledged ancestry of the key paradigms and sensibilities of the academic postmodern—tracing their roots to nineteenth-century Romanticism and to more general traditions of literature. He warns scholars against mistaking the migration of ideas from one discipline to another for a radically new response to the postmodern age.
In his nuanced and balanced assessment of the academic postmodern enterprise, Simpson recognizes that both the literary turn and the emphasis on local, subjective voices have done much to enrich knowledge. But he also identifies the danger in abandoning synthetic knowledge to particular truths, cautioning that "we would be foolish to pretend that little narratives are true alternatives to grand ones, rather than chips off a larger block whose shape we can no longer see because we are not looking."
ACADEMIC TRIBES 2ND ED
Hazard Adams University of Illinois Press, 1988 Library of Congress LB2341.A3 1988 | Dewey Decimal 378.73
In The Academic Tribes, an English professor who has survived stints as a dean and a vice-chancellor “takes a gentle, satiric sideswipe at academia, its foibles, follies, and myths” (ALA Booklist). This parody of anthropological analysis allows Hazard Adams to describe the principles and antinomies of academic politics, campus stereotypes, the various tribes divided by discipline, the agonies accompanying each stage on the way to full professorship, and, of course, the power struggle between faculties and academic administrators. For this first paperback edition, Adams has written a new preface, in which he looks back at the decade since the book was originally published, and has included an appendix of three relevant essays that appeared since the original publication.
Accessible Citizenships examines Chicana/o cultural representations that conceptualize political community through images of disability. Working against the assumption that disability is a metaphor for social decay or political crisis, Julie Avril Minich analyzes literature, film, and visual art post-1980 in which representations of non-normative bodies work to expand our understanding of what it means to belong to a political community.
Minich shows how queer writers like Arturo Islas and Cherríe Moraga have reconceptualized Chicano nationalism through disability images. She further addresses how the U.S.-Mexico border and disabled bodies restrict freedom and movement. Finally, she confronts the changing role of the nation-state in the face of neoliberalism as depicted in novels by Ana Castillo and Cecile Pineda.
Accessible Citizenships illustrates how these works gesture towards less exclusionary forms of citizenship and nationalism. Minich boldly argues that the corporeal images used to depict national belonging have important consequences for how the rights and benefits of citizenship are understood and distributed.
An accidental glance at a newspaper notice causes Rousseau to collapse under the force of a vision. A car accidentally hits Giacometti, and he experiences an epiphany. Darwin introduces accident to the basic process of life, and Freud looks to accident as the expression of unconscious desire. Accident, Ross Hamilton claims, is the force that makes us modern. Tracing the story of accident from Aristotle to Buster Keaton and beyond, Hamilton’s daring book revives the tradition of the grand history of ideas.
Accident tells an original history of Western thought from the perspective of Aristotle’s remarkably durable categories of accident and substance. Throughout antiquity and the Middle Ages, Aristotle’s distinction underwrote an insistence on order and subordination of the inessential. In a groundbreaking innovation, Hamilton argues that after the Reformation, the concept of accident began to change places with that of substance: accident became a life-transforming event and effectively a person’s essence. For moderns, it is the accidental, seemingly trivial moments of consciousness that, like Wordsworth’s “spots of time,” create constellations of meaning in our lives. Touching on a broad array of images and texts—Augustine, Dante, the frescoes of Raphael, Descartes, Jane Austen, the work of the surrealists, and twentieth-century cinema—Hamilton provides a new way to map the mutations of personal identity and subjectivity.
Shakespeare wrote of lions, shrews, horned toads, curs, mastiffs, and hellhounds. But the word “animal” itself only appears very rarely in his work, which was in keeping with sixteenth-century usage. As Laurie Shannon reveals in The Accommodated Animal, the modern human / animal divide first came strongly into play in the seventeenth century, with Descartes’s famous formulation that reason sets humans above other species: “I think, therefore I am.” Before that moment, animals could claim a firmer place alongside humans in a larger vision of belonging, or what she terms cosmopolity.
With Shakespeare as her touchstone, Shannon explores the creaturely dispensation that existed until Descartes. She finds that early modern writers used classical natural history and readings of Genesis to credit animals with various kinds of stakeholdership, prerogative, and entitlement, employing the language of politics in a constitutional vision of cosmic membership. Using this political idiom to frame cross-species relations, Shannon argues, carried with it the notion that animals possess their own investments in the world, a point distinct from the question of whether animals have reason. It also enabled a sharp critique of the tyranny of humankind. By answering “the question of the animal” historically, The Accommodated Animal makes a brilliant contribution to cross-disciplinary debates engaging animal studies, political theory, intellectual history, and literary studies.
Covering the entire body of Mark Twain's fiction, Clark Griffith in Achilles and the Tortoise answers two questions: How did Mark Twain write? And why is he funny? Griffith defines and demonstrates Mark Twain's poetics and, in doing so, reveals Twain's ability to create and sustain human laughter.
Through a close reading of the fictions–short and long, early and late–Griffith contends that Mark Twain's strength lay not in comedy or in satire or (as the 19th century understood the term) even in the practice of humor. Rather his genius lay in the joke, specifically the "sick joke." For all his finesse and seeming variety, Twain tells the same joke, with its single cast of doomed and damned characters, its single dead-end conclusion, over and over endlessly.
As he attempted to attain the comic resolution and comically transfigured characters he yearned for, Twain forever played, for Griffith, the role of the Achilles of Zeno's Paradox. Like the tortoise that Achilles cannot overtake in Zeno's tale, the richness of comic life forever remained outside Twain's grasp.
The last third of Griffith's study draws parallels between Mark Twain and Herman Melville. Although the two authors never met and seem not to have read each other's works, they labored under the sense of what, in Moby-Dick, Ishmael calls "a vast practical joke . . . at nobody's expense but [one's] own." The laughter occasioned by this cosmic conspiracy shapes the career of Huckleberry Finn fully as much as it does Ishmael's voyage. Out of the laughter are generated the respective obsessions of Captain Ahab and Bartleby, of Pudd'nhead Wilson and Hadleyburg. Reduced at last to a dry mock, the laughter is the prevailing tone of both Billy Budd and The Mysterious Stranger Manuscripts.
Acoustic Properties: Radio, Narrative, and the New Neighborhood of the Americas discovers the prehistory of wireless culture. It examines both the coevolution of radio and the novel in Argentina, Cuba, and the United States from the early 1930s to the late 1960s, and the various populist political climates in which the emerging medium of radio became the chosen means to produce the voice of the people.
Based on original archival research in Buenos Aires, Havana, Paris, and the United States, the book develops a literary media theory that understands sound as a transmedial phenomenon and radio as a transnational medium. Analyzing the construction of new social and political relations in the wake of the United States’ 1930s Good Neighbor Policy, Acoustic Properties challenges standard narratives of hemispheric influence through new readings of Richard Wright’s cinematic work in Argentina, Severo Sarduy’s radio plays in France, and novels by John Dos Passos, Manuel Puig, Raymond Chandler, and Carson McCullers. Alongside these writers, the book also explores Che Guevara and Fidel Castro’s Radio Rebelde, FDR’s fireside chats, Félix Caignet’s invention of the radionovela in Cuba, Evita Perón’s populist melodramas in Argentina, Orson Welles’s experimental New Deal radio, Cuban and U.S. “radio wars,” and the 1960s African American activist Robert F. Williams’s proto–black power Radio Free Dixie.
From the doldrums of the Great Depression to the tumult of the Cuban Revolution, Acoustic Properties illuminates how novelists in the radio age converted writing into a practice of listening, transforming realism as they struggled to channel and shape popular power.
We know how a Shakespeare play sounds when performed today, but what would listeners have heard within the wooden "O" of the Globe Theater in 1599? What sounds would have filled the air in early modern England, and what would these sounds have meant to people in that largely oral culture?
In this ear-opening journey into the sound-worlds of Shakespeare's contemporaries, Bruce R. Smith explores both the physical aspects of human speech (ears, lungs, tongue) and the surrounding environment (buildings, landscape, climate), as well as social and political structures. Drawing on a staggeringly wide range of evidence, he crafts a historical phenomenology of sound, from reconstructions of the "soundscapes" of city, country, and court to detailed accounts of the acoustic properties of the Globe and Blackfriars theaters and how scripts designed for the two spaces exploited sound very differently.
Critical for anyone who wants to understand the world of early modern England, Smith's pathbreaking "ecology" of voice and listening also has much to offer musicologists and acoustic ecologists.
ACROSS SPOON RIVER
Edgar Masters University of Illinois Press, 1991 Library of Congress PS3525.A83Z463 1991 | Dewey Decimal 811.52
This intimate and provocative autobiography, first published in 1936,
reveals the innermost thoughts of a great American poet. Edgar Lee Masters
was a transitional figure in American literature with one foot planted
in the nineteenth century and the other firmly placed on the path of what
we now think of as the modern period.
Masters expounds on his own development as a poet and as a human being;
he shares his views on American culture, politics, and the literary criticism
of the times. Masters's friends and acquaintances discussed here include
some of the most prominent writers and politicians of his age. And he
reflects on his life events that shaped, haunted, and inspired his writings
of the classic Spoon River Anthology.
The only collection of Yves Bonnefoy's criticism in English, this volume offers a coherent statement of poetic philosophy and intent—a clear expression of the values and convictions of the French poet whom many critics regard as the most important and influential of our time. The Introduction touches on many of the essays' concerns, including Bonnefoy's recourse to moral and religious categories, his particular use of Saussure's distinction between langue and parole, his early fascination with Surrealism, and his view of translation as "a metaphysical and moral experiment." The essays, published over a nearly thirty-year span, respond to one another, the more recent pieces taking up for renewed consideration ideas developed in earlier meditations, thereby providing the volume with integrity and completeness. Among the subjects addressed in these essays are the French poetic tradition, the art of translation, and the works of Shakespeare, of which Bonnefoy is the preeminent French translator.
Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, Malcolm X—their words speak firmly, eloquently, personally of the impact of white America on the lives of African-Americans. Black autobiographical discourses, from the earliest slave narratives to the most contemporary urban raps, have each in their own way gauged and confronted the character of white society. For Crispin Sartwell, as philosopher, cultural critic, and white male, these texts, through their exacting insights and external perspective, provide a rare opportunity, a means of glimpsing and gaining access to contents and core of white identity.
There is, Sartwell contends, a fundamental elusiveness to that identity. Whiteness defines itself as normative, as a neutral form of the human condition, marking all other forms of identity as "racial" or "ethnic" deviations. Invisible to itself, white identity seeks to define its essence over and against those other identities, in effect defining itself through opposition and oppression. By maintaining fictions of black licentiousness, violence, and corruption, white identity is able to cast itself as humane, benevolent, and pure; the stereotype fabricates not only the oppressed but the oppressor as well. Sartwell argues that African-American autobiography perceives white identity from a particular and unique vantage point; one that is knowledgeable and intimate, yet fundamentally removed from the white world and thus unencumbered by its obfuscating claims to normativity.
Throughout this provocative work, Sartwell steadfastly recognizes the many ways in which he too is implicated in the formulation and perpetuation of racial attitudes and discourse. In Act Like You Know, he challenges both himself and others to take a long, hard look in the mirror of African-American autobiography, and to find there, in the light of those narratives, the visible features of white identity.
"Greek drama demands a story of origins," writes Karen Bassi in Acting Like Men. Abandoning the search for ritual and native origins of Greek drama, Bassi argues for a more secular and less formalist approach to the emergence of theater in ancient Greece. Bassi takes a broad view of Greek drama as a cultural phenomenon, and she discusses a wide variety of texts and artifacts that include epic poetry, historical narrative, philosophical treatises, visual media, and the dramatic texts themselves.
In her discussion of theaterlike practices and experiences, Bassi proposes new conceptual categories for understanding Greek drama as a cultural institution, viewing theatrical performance as part of what Foucault has called a discursive formation. Bassi also provides an important new analysis of gender in Greek culture at large and in Athenian civic ideology in particular, where spectatorship at the civic theater was a distinguishing feature of citizenship, and where citizenship was denied women.
Acting Like Men includes detailed discussions of message-sending as a form of scripted speech in the Iliad, of disguise and the theatrical body of Odysseus in the Odyssey, of tyranny as a theaterlike phenomenon in the narratives of Herodotus, and of Dionysus as the tyrannical and effeminate god of the theater in Euripides' Bacchae and Aristophanes' Frogs. Bassi concludes that the validity of an idealized masculine identity in Greek and Athenian culture is highly contested in the theater, where--in principle--citizens become passive spectators. Thereafter the author considers Athenian theater and Athenian democracy as mutually reinforcing mimetic regimes.
Acting Like Men will interest those interested in the history of the theater, performance theory, gender and cultural studies, and feminist approaches to ancient texts.
Karen Bassi is Associate Professor of Classics, University of California, Santa Cruz.
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,” Blaise Pascal wrote in 1654. But then there’s Walt Whitman, in 1856: “Whoever you are, come forth! Or man or woman come forth! / You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house.”
It is truly an ancient debate: Is it better to be active or contemplative? To do or to think? To make an impact, or to understand the world more deeply? Aristotle argued for contemplation as the highest state of human flourishing. But it was through action that his student Alexander the Great conquered the known world. Which should we aim at? Centuries later, this argument underlies a surprising number of the questions we face in contemporary life. Should students study the humanities, or train for a job? Should adults work for money or for meaning? And in tumultuous times, should any of us sit on the sidelines, pondering great books, or throw ourselves into protests and petition drives?
With Action versus Contemplation, Jennifer Summit and Blakey Vermeule address the question in a refreshingly unexpected way: by refusing to take sides. Rather, they argue for a rethinking of the very opposition. The active and the contemplative can—and should—be vibrantly alive in each of us, fused rather than sundered. Writing in a personable, accessible style, Summit and Vermeule guide readers through the long history of this debate from Plato to Pixar, drawing compelling connections to the questions and problems of today. Rather than playing one against the other, they argue, we can discover how the two can nourish, invigorate, and give meaning to each other, as they have for the many writers, artists, and thinkers, past and present, whose examples give the book its rich, lively texture of interplay and reference.
This is not a self-help book. It won’t give you instructions on how to live your life. Instead, it will do something better: it will remind you of the richness of a life that embraces action and contemplation, company and solitude, living in the moment and planning for the future. Which is better? Readers of this book will discover the answer: both.
Action Writing: Jack Kerouac's Wild Form connects the personal and creative development of the Beat generation's famous icon with cultural changes in postwar America. Michael Hrebeniak asserts that Jack Kerouac's "wild form"—self-organizing narratives free of literary, grammatical, and syntactical conventions—moves within an experimental continuum across the arts to generate a Dionysian sense of writing as raw process. Action Writing highlights how Kerouac made concrete his 1952 intimation of "something beyond the novel" by assembling ideas from Beat America, modernist poetics, action painting, bebop, and subterranean oral traditions.
Geared to scholars and students of American literature, Beat studies, and creative writing, Action Writing places Kerouac's writing within the context of the American art scene at midcentury. Reframing the work of Kerouac and the Beat generation within the experimental modernist and postmodernist literary tradition, this probing inquiry offers a direct engagement with the social and cultural history at the foreground of Kerouac's career from the 1940s to the late 1960s.
On 2 September 31 B.C.E., the heir of Julius Caesar defeated the forces of Antony and Cleopatra in a naval engagement at Actium. Despite the varied judgments this battle received in antiquity, common opinion held that Actium marked the start of a new era, a turning point in Roman history and, indeed, in Western civilization.
Actium and Augustus marks a turning point as well. Robert Alan Gurval's unusual approach is to examine contemporary views of the battle and its immediate political and social consequences. He starts with a consideration of the official celebration and public commemoration of the Actian victory and then moves on to other questions. What were the "Actian" monuments that Octavian erected on the battle site and later in Rome? What role did the Actian victory play in the political formation of the Principate and its public ideology? What was the response of contemporary poetry? Throughout, this volume concentrates on contemporary views of Actium and its results.
Written to include the general reader, Actium and Augustus presents a thoughtful examination of a complex period. All Greek and Latin quotations are translated, and extensive illustrations present graphic evidence about the issues Romans faced.
Robert Alan Gurval is Associate Professor of Classics, University of California, Los Angeles, and has been a recipient of the Rome Prize awarded by the American Academy in Rome.
A collection of essays highlighting the pervasive, yet often unacknowledged, role of Romantic poetry and poetics on modern and contemporary innovative poetry
Literary history generally locates the primary movement toward poetic innovation in twentieth-century modernism, an impulse carried out against a supposedly enervated “late-Romantic” poetry of the nineteenth century. The original essays in Active Romanticism challenge this interpretation by tracing the fundamental continuities between Romanticism’s poetic and political radicalism and the experimental movements in poetry from the late nineteenth century to the present day.
According to editors July Carr and Jeffrey C. Robinson, “active romanticism” is a poetic response, direct or indirect, to pressing social issues and an attempt to redress forms of ideological repression; at its core, “active romanticism” champions democratic pluralism and confronts ideologies that suppress the evidence of pluralism. “Poetry fetter’d, fetters the human race,” declared poet William Blake at the beginning of the nineteenth century. No other statement from the era of the French Revolution marks with such terseness the challenge for poetry to participate in the liberation of human society from forms of inequality and invisibility. No other statement insists so vividly that a poetic event pushing for social progress demands the unfettering of traditional, customary poetic form and language.
Bringing together work by well-known writers and critics, ranging from scholarly studies to poets’ testimonials, Active Romanticism shows Romantic poetry not to be the sclerotic corpse against which the avant-garde reacted but rather the wellspring from which it flowed.
Offering a fundamental rethinking of the history of modern poetry, Carr and Robinson have grouped together in this collection a variety of essays that confirm the existence of Romanticism as an ongoing mode of poetic production that is innovative and dynamic, a continuation of the nineteenth-century Romantic tradition, and a form that reacts and renews itself at any given moment of perceived social crisis.
Dan Beachy-Quick / Julie Carr / Jacques Darras / Rachel Blau DuPlessis / Judith Goldman / Simon Jarvis / Andrew Joron / Nigel Leask / Jennifer Moxley / Bob Perelman / Jeffrey C. Robinson / Jerome Rothenberg / Elizabeth Willis / and Heriberto Yépez
In the Preface to this second edition of her first book, Sandra M. Gilbert addresses the inevitable question: "How can you be a feminist and a Lawrentian?" The answer is intellectually satisfying and historically revealing as she traces an array of early twentieth-century women of letters, some of them proto-feminists, who revered Lawrence despite his countless statements that would today be condemned as "sexist."
H.D. regarded him as one of her "initiators" whose words "flamed alive, blue serpents on the page." Anais Nin insisted that he "had a complete realization of the feelings of women."
By focusing on Lawrence’s own definition of a poem as an "act of attention," Gilbert demonstrates how he developed the mature style of Birds, Beasts and Flowers, his finest collection of poetry. She discusses this volume at length, examines many of his later poems in detail, including the hymns from The Plumed Serpent, Pansies, Nettles, and More Pansies, and ends with a close look at Last Poems. Her detailed examination provides a clearer image of Lawrence as an artist—an artist whose poetry complements his novels and whose fiction enriches but does not outshine his poetry.
American poets’ theater emerged in the postwar period alongside the rich, performance-oriented poetry and theater scenes that proliferated on the makeshift stages of urban coffee houses, shared apartments, and underground theaters, yet its significance has been largely overlooked by critics. Acts of Poetry shines a spotlight on poets’ theater’s key groups, practitioners, influencers, and inheritors, such as the Poets’ Theatre, the Living Theatre, Gertrude Stein, Bunny Lang, Frank O’Hara, Amiri Baraka, Carla Harryman, and Suzan-Lori Parks. Heidi R. Bean demonstrates the importance of poets’ theater in the development of twentieth-century theater and performance poetry, and especially evolving notions of the audience’s role in performance, and in narratives of the relationship between performance and everyday life. Drawing on an extensive archive of scripts, production materials, personal correspondence, theater records, interviews, manifestoes, editorials, and reviews, the book captures critical assessments and behind-the-scenes discussions that enrich our understanding of the intertwined histories of American theater and American poetry in the twentieth century.
This collection considers new phenomena emerging in a convergence environment from the perspective of adaptation studies. The contributions take the most prominent methods within the field to offer reconsiderations of theoretical concepts and practices in participatory culture, transmedia franchises, and new media adaptations. The authors discuss phenomena ranging from mash-ups of novels and YouTube cover songs to negotiations of authorial control and interpretative authority between media producers and fan communities to perspectives on the fictional and legal framework of brands and franchises. In this fashion, the collection expands the horizons of both adaptation and transmedia studies and provides reassessments of frequently discussed (BBC’s Sherlock or the LEGO franchise) and previously largely ignored phenomena (self-censorship in transnational franchises, mash-up novels, or YouTube cover videos).
Reveals the full range of Kenneth Burke's contribution to the possibility of social change
In Addressing Postmodernity, Barbara Biesecker examines the relationship between rhetoric and social change and the ways human beings transform social relations through the purposeful use of symbols. In discerning the conditions of possibility for social transformation and the role of human beings and rhetoric in it, Biesecker turns to the seminal work of Kenneth Burke.
Through a close reading of Burke's major works, A Grammar of Motives, A Rhetoric of Motives, and The Rhetoric of Religion: Studies in Logology, the author addresses the critical topic of the
fragmentation of the contemporary lifeworld revealing postmodernity will have a major impact on Burkeian scholarship and on the rhetorical critique of social relations in general.
Directly confronting the challenges posed by postmodernity to social theorists and critics alike and juxtaposing the work of Burke and Jurgen Habermas, Biesecker argues that a radicalized rereading of Burke's theory of the negative opens the way toward a resolutely rhetorical theory of social change and human agency.
"Includes research on adoption documents rarely open to historians . . . an important addition to the literature on adoption."
"Sheds new light on the roots of this complex and fascinating institution."
"Well-written and accessible . . . showcases the wide-ranging scholarship underway on the history of adoption."
"[T]his volume is a significant contribution to the literature and can serve as a catalyst for further research."
---Social Service Review
Adoption affects an estimated 60 percent of Americans, but despite its pervasiveness, this social institution has been little examined and poorly understood. Adoption in America gathers essays on the history of adoptions and orphanages in the United States. Offering provocative interpretations of a variety of issues, including antebellum adoption and orphanages; changing conceptions of adoption in late-nineteenth-century novels; Progressive Era reform and adoptive mothers; the politics of "matching" adoptive parents with children; the radical effect of World War II on adoption practices; religion and the reform of adoption; and the construction of birth mother and adoptee identities, the essays in Adoption in America will be debated for many years to come.
This book presents a committed quest to unravel and document the postwar adoption networks that placed more than 3,000 Greek children in the United States, in a movement accelerated by the aftermath of the Greek Civil War and by the new conditions of the global Cold War. Greek-to-American adoptions and, regrettably, also their transactions and transgressions, provided the blueprint for the first large-scale international adoptions, well before these became a mass phenomenon typically associated with Asian children. The story of these Greek postwar and Cold War adoptions, whose procedures ranged from legal to highly irregular, has never been told or analyzed before. Adoption, Memory, and Cold War Greece answers the important questions: How did these adoptions from Greece happen? Was there any money involved? Humanitarian rescue or kid pro quo? Or both? With sympathy and perseverance, Gonda Van Steen has filled a decades-long gap in our understanding, and provided essential information to the hundreds of adoptees and their descendants whose lives are still affected today.
In Adulterous Nations, Tatiana Kuzmic enlarges our perspective on the nineteenth-century novel of adultery, showing how it often served as a metaphor for relationships between the imperialistic and the colonized. In the context of the long-standing practice of gendering nations as female, the novels under discussion here—George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Theodor Fontane’s Effi Briest, and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, along with August Šenoa’s The Goldsmith’s Gold and Henryk Sienkiewicz’s Quo Vadis—can be understood as depicting international crises on the scale of the nuclear family. In each example, an outsider figure is responsible for the disruption experienced by the family. Kuzmic deftly argues that the hopes, anxieties, and interests of European nations during this period can be discerned in the destabilizing force of adultery. Reading the work of Šenoa and Sienkiewicz, from Croatia and Poland, respectively, Kuzmic illuminates the relationship between the literature of dominant nations and that of the semicolonized territories that posed a threat to them. Ultimately, Kuzmic’s study enhances our understanding of not only these five novels but nineteenth-century European literature more generally.
Advances in the Analysis of Spanish Exclamatives is the first book entirely devoted to Spanish exclamatives, a special sentence type often overlooked by contemporary linguists and neglected in standard grammatical descriptions. The seven essays in this volume, each by a leading specialist on the topic, scrutinize the syntax—as well as the semantic and pragmatic aspects—of exclamations on theoretical grounds.
The book begins by summarizing, commenting on, and evaluating previous descriptive and theoretical contributions on Spanish exclamatives. This introductory overview also contains a detailed classification of Spanish exclamative grammatical types, along with an analysis of their main properties. Special attention is devoted in the book throughoutto the syntactic structures displayed by exclamative patterns; the differences between exclamations and other speech acts (specifically questions and imperatives); the peculiar semantic denotation of exclamative words and their relationship to quantifiers denoting high degree; the semantics of adjectives and adverbs expressing extreme evaluation; the form and interpretation of negated and embedded exclamatives; the properties of optative utterances; and the different ways in which expressive contents are related to unexpected reactions of the speaker, as well as possible knowledge shared by interlocutors.
This groundbreaking volume provides a complete and accurate picture of Spanish exclamation by integrating its numerous component parts.
In this first general theory for the analysis of popular literary formulas, John G. Cawelti reveals the artistry that underlies the best in formulaic literature. Cawelti discusses such seemingly diverse works as Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Dorothy Sayers's The Nine Tailors, and Owen Wister's The Virginian in the light of his hypotheses about the cultural function of formula literature. He describes the most important artistic characteristics of popular formula stories and the differences between this literature and that commonly labeled "high" or "serious" literature. He also defines the archetypal patterns of adventure, mystery, romance, melodrama, and fantasy, and offers a tentative account of their basis in human psychology.
The Aeneid of Virgil
Virgil University of Michigan Press, 1995 Library of Congress PA6807.A5M38 1995 | Dewey Decimal 873.01
Called "the best poem by the best poet," Virgil's Aeneid is perhaps the most famous work in Latin literature. It tells the story of Rome's founding by the Trojan prince Aeneas after many years of travel, and it contains many of the most famous stories about the Trojan War. It also reveals much of what the Romans felt and believed about themselves- the sensitive reader will see that these same values and issues often trouble us today.
In this new translation Edward McCrorie has performed the difficult task of rendering Virgil's compact, dense Latin into fine, readable, modern English verse. The sometimes complex text is made clear and comprehensible even for first-time readers, and a glossary of names helps identify characters and place-names in the poem. The translation is well suited for students at all levels, and readers already familiar with Virgil will find many fresh images and ideas.
"A brilliant effort."--Robert Bly
"I admire the ambition of the project, and the generosity of many of the lines."--Robert Fagles
Edward McCrorie is Professor of English, Providence College. His poetry and translations of Latin verse have been widely published.
This book offers a provocative interpretation of a relatively neglected tragedy, Aeschylus's Suppliant Women. Although the play's subject is a venerable myth, it frames the flight of the daughters of Danaus from Egypt to Greece in starkly contemporary terms, emphasizing the encounter between newcomers and natives. Some scholars read Suppliant Women as modeling successful social integration, but Geoffrey W. Bakewell argues that the play demonstrates, above all, the difficulties and dangers noncitizens brought to the polis.
Bakewell's approach is rigorously historical, situating Suppliant Women in the context of the unprecedented immigration that Athens experienced in the sixth and fifth centuries BCE. The flow of foreigners to Attika increased under the Pisistratids but became a flood following liberation, Cleisthenes, and the Persian Wars. As Athenians of the classical era became increasingly aware of their own collective identity, they sought to define themselves and exclude others. They created a formal legal status to designate the free noncitizens living among them, calling them metics and calling their status metoikia. When Aeschylus dramatized the mythical flight of the Danaids from Egypt in his play Suppliant Women, he did so in light of his own time and place. Throughout the play, directly and indirectly, he casts the newcomers as metics and their stay in Greece as metoikia.
Bakewell maps the manifold anxieties that metics created in classical Athens, showing that although citizens benefited from the many immigrants in their midst, they also feared the effects of immigration in political, sexual, and economic realms. Bakewell finds metoikia was a deeply flawed solution to the problem of large-scale immigration. Aeschylus's Argives accepted the Danaids as metics only under duress and as a temporary response to a crisis. Like the historical Athenians, they opted for metoikia because they lacked better alternatives.
The most complete corpus of the proverbs and fables of Aesop ever assembled
Ben Edwin Perry's Aesopica remains the definitive edition of all fables reputed to be by Aesop. The volume begins traditionally with a life of Aesop, but in two different and previously unedited Greek versions, with collations that record variations in the major recensions. It includes 179 proverbs attributed to Aesop and 725 carefully organized fables, for which Perry also provides their eldest known sources. To better evaluate the place of Aesop in literary history, Perry includes testimonies about Aesop made by Greek and Latin authors, from Herodotus to Maximus Planudes.
Most of us grew up with Aesop's Fables—tales of talking animals, with morals attached. In fact, the familiar versions of the stories attributed to this enigmatic and astute storyteller are based on adaptations of Aesop by the liberated Roman slave Phaedrus. In turn, Phaedrus's renderings have been rewritten so extensively over the centuries that they do not do justice to the originals. In Aesop's Human Zoo, legendary Cambridge classicist John Henderson puts together a surprising set of up-front translations—fifty sharp, raw, and sometimes bawdy, fables by Phaedrus into the tersest colloquial English verse.
Providing unusual insights into the heart of Roman culture, these clever poems open up odd avenues of ancient lore and life as they explore social types and physical aspects of the body, regularly mocking the limitations of human nature and offering vulgar or promiscuous interpretations of the stuff of social life.
Featuring folksy proverbs and satirical anecdotes, filled with saucy naughtiness and awful puns, Aesop's Human Zoo will amuse you with its eccentricities and hit home with its shrewdly candid and red raw messages. The entertainment offered in this volume of impeccably accurate translations is truly a novelty—a good-hearted and knowing laugh courtesy of classical poetry. Beginning to advanced classicists and Latin scholars will appreciate the original Latin text provided in this bilingual edition. The splash of classic Thomas Bewick wood engravings to accompany the fables renders the collection complete.
One hundred twenty-two sonnets that touch on contemporary American popular culture, social trends, and personalities. Poet Roger Armbrust is described by some as a mystic, by others as a spiritualist, and by yet others as a guy who toys with really big thoughts, making them objects both of serious study and of humor. His sonnets will push you to laughter and meditation: a satisfying literary ride.
In The Aesthetic Astronaut, Roger Armbrust escorts readers on an insightful journey throughout Earth and beyond. We experience the loneliness and instpiration of "the Aesthetic Astronaut"; cold-blooded calculations of "The Armchair Assassin"; passion and sense of the romantic lover; reflective memories of a gentle heart growing older; ironic vision of an observer to history, and subtle--and sometimes not so subtle--humor of a fellow human involved in our day-to-day challenge of living a worthwhile life. The poet's imagery and attitude. . . may fascinate, thrill, sadden, anger, or push you to laughter or meditation. But you'll find the trip a fascinating literary ride.
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.
Through most of Western European history, Jews have been a numerically tiny or entirely absent minority, but across that history Europeans have nonetheless worried a great deal about Judaism. Why should that be so? This short but powerfully argued book suggests that Christian anxieties about their own transcendent ideals made Judaism an important tool for Christianity, as an apocalyptic religion—characterized by prizing soul over flesh, the spiritual over the literal, the heavenly over the physical world—came to terms with the inescapable importance of body, language, and material things in this world. Nirenberg shows how turning the Jew into a personification of worldly over spiritual concerns, surface over inner meaning, allowed cultures inclined toward transcendence to understand even their most materialistic practices as spiritual. Focusing on art, poetry, and politics—three activities especially condemned as worldly in early Christian culture—he reveals how, over the past two thousand years, these activities nevertheless expanded the potential for their own existence within Christian culture because they were used to represent Judaism. Nirenberg draws on an astonishingly diverse collection of poets, painters, preachers, philosophers, and politicians to reconstruct the roles played by representations of Jewish “enemies” in the creation of Western art, culture, and politics, from the ancient world to the present day. This erudite and tightly argued survey of the ways in which Christian cultures have created themselves by thinking about Judaism will appeal to the broadest range of scholars of religion, art, literature, political theory, media theory, and the history of Western civilization more generally.
This provocative work takes issue with the idea that Socialist Realism was mainly the creation of party leaders and was imposed from above on the literati who lived and worked under the Soviet regime. Evgeny Dobrenko, a leading expert on Soviet literature, argues instead--and offers persuasive evidence--that the aesthetic theories underpinning Socialist Realism arose among the writers themselves, born of their proponents' desire for power in the realm of literary policymaking. Accordingly, Dobrenko closely considers the evolution of these theories, deciphering the power relations and social conditions that helped to shape them.
In chapters on Proletkult, RAPP, LEF, and Pereval, Dobrenko reexamines the theories generated by these major Marxist literary groupings of the early Soviet Union. He shows how each approached the problems of literature's response to the presumed social mandate of the young communist society, and how Socialist Realism emerged as a conglomerate of these earlier, revolutionary theories. With extensive and detailed reference to supporting testimony and documents, Dobrenko clearly demonstrates how Socialist Realism was created from within the revolutionary culture, and how this culture and its disciples fully participated in this creative process. His work represents a major breakthrough in our current understanding of the complex sources that contributed to early Soviet culture.
Through a series of provocative conversations, Frederick Luis Aldama and Herbert Lindenberger, who have written widely on literature, film, music, and art, locate a place for the discomforting and the often painfully unpleasant within aesthetics. The conversational format allows them to travel informally across many centuries and many art forms. They have much to tell one another about the arts since the advent of modernism soon after 1900—the nontonal music, for example, of the Second Vienna School, the chance-directed music and dance of John Cage and Merce Cunningham, the in-your-faceness of such diverse visual artists as Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, Egon Schiele, Otto Dix, and Damien Hirst. They demonstrate as well a long tradition of discomforting art stretching back many centuries, for example, in the Last Judgments of innumerable Renaissance painters, in Goya’s so-called “black” paintings, in Wagner’s Tristan chord, and in the subtexts of Shakespearean works such as King Lear and Othello. This book is addressed at once to scholars of literature, art history, musicology, and cinema. Although its conversational format eschews the standard conventions of scholarly argument, it provides original insights both into particular art forms and into individual works within these forms. Among other matters, it demonstrates how recent work in neuroscience may provide insights in the ways that consumers process difficult and discomforting works of art. The book also contributes to current aesthetic theory by charting the dialogue that goes on—especially in aesthetically challenging works—between creator, artifact, and consumer.
The wild innovations of the early twentieth-century avant-garde have been widely celebrated for their influence on the course of experimental drama but rarely examined closely and systematically. Through an exploration of the plays from Germany, France, and England, The Aesthetics of Disturbance discusses modernism and the avant-garde, the relationship of drama to art movements such as expressionism, dada, and surrealism, and the interactions of visual, literary, and performance art.
Beginning with a survey of the history and theory of avant- garde art, David Graver critically juxtaposes important competing interpretations of the avant-garde, establishes basic distinctions between forms of avant-garde art, compares the aesthetic interests of the avant- garde to those of modernism, and discusses the relationship between the avant-garde and drama. Then, through close readings of the works of five preeminent avant-garde playwrights and visual artists- Oskar Kokoschka, Gottfried Benn, Raymond Roussel, Roger Vitrac, and Wyndham Lewis- he examines the innovations in dramatic literature carried out by these visionaries and finally relates them to the innovations in theater articulated by Brecht and Artaud. Graver argues that anti-art principles, most noticeable in the confrontational tactics of dada performance, can also be found within literary dramatic texts, where they create an "aesthetics of disturbance" that destabilizes the integrity of the work without allowing it to self-destruct.
"A corrective to the oft-repeated, over-simple idea that anti-art consists of the same destructive gesture repeated in different forms. This is a useful book that fills a gap, both conceptually and in terms of the figures discussed." --Philip Auslander, Georgia Institute of Technology
"Original, important, well- done."--Anthony Kubiak, Harvard University
David Graver is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University.
An Aesthetics of Injury exposes wounding as a foundational principle of modernism in literature and film. Theorizing the genre of the narrative wound—texts that aim not only to depict but also to inflict injury—Ian Fleishman reveals harm as an essential aesthetic strategy in ten exemplary authors and filmmakers: Charles Baudelaire, Franz Kafka, Georges Bataille, Jean Genet, Hélène Cixous, Ingeborg Bachmann, Elfriede Jelinek, Werner Schroeter, Michael Haneke, and Quentin Tarantino.
Violence in the modernist mode, an ostensible intrusion of raw bodily harm into the artwork, aspires to transcend its own textuality, and yet, as An Aesthetics of Injury establishes, the wound paradoxically remains the essence of inscription. Fleishman thus shows how the wound, once the modernist emblem par excellence of an immediate aesthetic experience, comes to be implicated in a postmodern understanding of reality reduced to ceaseless mediation. In so doing, he demonstrates how what we think of as the most real object, the human body, becomes indistinguishable from its “nonreal” function as text. At stake in this tautological textual model is the heritage of narrative thought: both the narratological workings of these texts (how they tell stories) and the underlying epistemology exposed (whether these narrativists still believe in narrative at all).
With fresh and revealing readings of canonical authors and filmmakers seldom treated alongside one another, An Aesthetics of Injury is important reading for scholars working on literary or cinematic modernism and the postmodern, philosophy, narratology, body culture studies, queer and gender studies, trauma studies, and cultural theory.
The contemporary moment has been described in terms of both a “narrative” and a “performative turn,” but the overlap between these two has largely escaped attention. This curious gap is explained by the ways in which scholars across the humanities have defined narrative and performance as opposite forces, emphasizing their respective affiliations with time vs. space and identity constitution vs. its undoing. Although the opposition has been acknowledged as false by many in this simple form, its shifting instantiations continue to shape the ways we make sense of the arts as well as society. Instead, An Aesthetics of Narrative Performance: Transnational Theater, Literature, and Film in Contemporary Germany by Claudia Breger maps the complexities of imaginative worldmaking in contemporary culture through an aesthetics of narrative performance: an ensemble of techniques exploring the interplay of rupture and recontextualization in the process of configuration. Interlacing diverging definitions of both narrative and performance, the study outlines two clusters of such techniques—scenic narration and narrative “presencing” in performance vs. forms of narrative theatricalization—and analyzes the cultural work they do in individual works in three different media: literature, film, and theater. These readings focus on the rich configurations of contemporary worldmaking “at location Germany.” In the discussed representations of German unification, contemporary cultures of migration, and the transnational War on Terror, the aesthetics of narrative performance finds its identity as a multifaceted imaginative response to the post/modern crisis of narrative authority.
In The Aesthetics of Service in Early Modern England, Elizabeth Rivlin explores the ways in which servant-master relationships reshaped literature. The early modern servant is enjoined to obey his or her master out of dutiful love, but the servant's duty actually amounts to standing in for the master, a move that opens the possibility of becoming master. Rivlin shows that service is fundamentally a representational practice, in which the servant who acts for a master merges with the servant who acts as a master.
Rivlin argues that in the early modern period, servants found new positions as subjects and authors found new forms of literature. Representations of servants and masters became a site of contact between pressing material concerns and evolving aesthetic ones. Offering readings of dramas by Shakespeare, Jonson, and Thomas Dekker and prose fictions by Thomas Deloney and Thomas Nashe, Rivlin suggests that these authors discovered their own exciting and unstable projects in the servants they created.
In this, the only full-length study of the visual poetry of the early twentieth century, Willard Bohn expertly illuminates the works of Apollinaire, Josep-Maria Junow, Guillermo de Torre, and others. His fascinating aesthetic insights bring to life this elusive and often misunderstood genre.
"An important contribution. Highly sophisticated, the study tends to raise its reader's impression of visual poetry in the twentieth century from trivial pastime to serious preoccupation."—Eric Sellin, Journal of Modern Literature
"With his definitive analyses full of quotable observations and sharp critical insights, Bohn has provided a model, pioneering study, one from which current and future studies of visual poetry will most certainly benefit."—Gerald J. Janacek, Romance Quarterly
"Bohn substantiates his thesis with thoughtful and often ingenious explications of texts both well known and hard to find. . . . Aesthetics of Visual Poetry is a thoroughly researched, beautifully written and fascinating introduction to an infinitely intriguing genre."—Mechthild Cranston, French Review
When theater and related forms of live performance explore the borderlands labeled animal and autism, they both reflect and affect their audiences’ understanding of what it means to be human. Affect, Animals, and Autists maps connections across performances that question the borders of the human whose neurodiverse experiences have been shaped by the diagnostic label of autism, and animal-human performance relationships that dispute and blur anthropocentric edges.
By analyzing specific structures of affect with the vocabulary of emotions, Marla Carlson builds upon the conception of affect articulated by psychologist Silvan Tomkins. The book treats a diverse selection of live performance and archival video and analyzes the ways in which they affect their audiences. The range of performances includes commercially successful productions such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, War Horse, and The Lion King as well as to the more avant-garde and experimental theater created by Robert Wilson and Christopher Knowles, Back to Back Theatre, Elevator Repair Service, Pig Iron Theatre, and performance artist Deke Weaver.
The Affect Theory Reader
Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth, eds. Duke University Press, 2010 Library of Congress BF175.5.A35A344 2010 | Dewey Decimal 152.4
This field-defining collection consolidates and builds momentum in the burgeoning area of affect studies. The contributors include many of the central theorists of affect—those visceral forces beneath, alongside, or generally other than conscious knowing that can serve to drive us toward movement, thought, and ever-changing forms of relation. As Lauren Berlant explores “cruel optimism,” Brian Massumi theorizes the affective logic of public threat, and Elspeth Probyn examines shame, they, along with the other contributors, show how an awareness of affect is opening up exciting new insights in disciplines from anthropology, cultural studies, geography, and psychology to philosophy, queer studies, and sociology. In essays diverse in subject matter, style, and perspective, the contributors demonstrate how affect theory illuminates the intertwined realms of the aesthetic, the ethical, and the political as they play out across bodies (human and non-human) in both mundane and extraordinary ways. They reveal the broad theoretical possibilities opened by an awareness of affect as they reflect on topics including ethics, food, public morale, glamor, snark in the workplace, and mental health regimes. The Affect Theory Reader includes an interview with the cultural theorist Lawrence Grossberg and an afterword by the anthropologist Kathleen Stewart. In the introduction, the editors suggest ways of defining affect, trace the concept’s history, and highlight the role of affect theory in various areas of study.
Contributors. Sara Ahmed, Ben Anderson, Lauren Berlant, Lone Bertelsen, Steven D. Brown, Patricia Ticineto Clough, Anna Gibbs,Melissa Gregg, Lawrence Grossberg, Ben Highmore, Brian Massumi, Andrew Murphie, Elspeth Probyn, Gregory J. Seigworth, Kathleen Stewart, Nigel Thrift, Ian Tucker, Megan Watkins
Affective Ecologies: Empathy, Emotion, and Environmental Narrative explores our emotional engagement with environmental narrative. Focusing on the American cultural context, Alexa Weik von Mossner develops an ecocritical approach that draws on the insights of affective science and cognitive narratology. This approach helps to clarify how we interact with environmental narratives in ways that are both biologically universal and culturally specific. In doing so, it pays particular attention to the thesis that our minds are both embodied (in a physical body) and embedded (in a physical environment), not only when we interact with the real world but also in our engagement with imaginary worlds.
How do we experience the virtual environments we encounter in literature and film on the sensory and emotional level? How do environmental narratives invite us to care for human and nonhuman others who are put at risk? And how do we feel about the speculative futures presented to us in ecotopian and ecodystopian texts? Weik von Mossner explores these central questions that are important to anyone with an interest in the emotional appeal and persuasive power of environmental narratives.
In her groundbreaking Affective Intellectuals and the Space of Catastrophe in the Americas, Judith Sierra-Rivera studies five different contexts of crisis: natural disasters in Mexico, forced displacements between Central America and the United States, a whitewashed transition to democracy in Chile, colonialism and wars in Puerto Rico, and racism and patriarchy in Cuba. All of these scenarios share the common ground of the neoliberal space of catastrophe, which also generates new groups and forms of resistance. Affective Intellectuals argues that a new kind of intellectual emerges from these contemporary configurations to speak and act guided by the stories and desires of those who have been systematically pushed out of the public sphere: indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, immigrants, LGBTQ sexualities, and inhabitants of poverty.
Pursuing this argument, Sierra-Rivera examines print, radio, and web materials by authors whose emotional discourses have also had a measurable impact on the formation of communities that demand their full political inclusion in society. This book therefore fills a significant gap in the study of the relationship between materiality (space and bodies), emotions, and the political imagination. Affective Intellectuals demonstrates that writers and intellectuals themselves are vital in reshaping their communities and fighting for social justice in the Hemispheric Americas.
Jonathan FLATLEY Harvard University Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS214.F63 2008 | Dewey Decimal 810.9353
The surprising claim of this book is that dwelling on loss is not necessarily depressing. Instead, embracing melancholy can be a road back to contact with others and can lead people to productively remap their relationship to the world around them. Flatley demonstrates that a seemingly disparate set of modernist writers and thinkers showed how aesthetic activity can give us the means to comprehend and change our relation to loss.
Africa Wo/Man Palava offers the first close look at eight Nigerian women writers and proposes a new vernacular theory based on their work. Flora Nwapa, Adaora Lily Ulasi, Buchi Emecheta, Funmilayo Fakunle, Ifeoma Okoye, Zaynab Alkali, Eno Obong, and Simi Bedford are the writers Chikwenye Okonjo Ogunyemi considers. African womanism, an emerging model of female discourse, is at the heart of their writing. In their work, female resistance shifts from the idea of palava, or trouble, to a focus on consensus, compromise, and cooperation; it tackles sexism, totalitarianism, and ethnic prejudice. Such inclusiveness, Ogunyemi shows, stems from an emphasis on motherhood, acknowledging that everyone is a mother's child, capable of creating palava and generating a compromise.
Ogunyemi uses the novels to trace a Nigerian women's literary tradition that reflects an ideology centered on children and community. Of prime importance is the paradoxical Mammywata figure, the independent, childless mother, who serves as a basis for the new woman in these novels. Ogunyemi tracks this figure through many permutations, from matriarch to exile to woman writer, her multiple personalities reflecting competing loyalties—to self and other, children and nation. Such fragmented personalities characterize the postcolonial condition in their writing. Mapping geographies of pain and endurance, the work opens a space for addressing the palava between different groups of people. Valuable as the first sustained critical study of a substantial but little known body of literature, this book also counters the shortcomings of prevailing "masculinist" theories of black literature in a powerful narrative of the Nigerian world.
Satire's real purpose as a literary genre is to criticize through humor, irony, caricature, and parody, and ultimately to defy the status quo. In African American Satire, Darryl Dickson-Carr provides the first book-length study of African American satire and the vital role it has played. In the process he investigates African American literature, American literature, and the history of satire.
Dickson-Carr argues that major works by such authors as Rudolph Fisher, Ishmael Reed, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, and George S. Schuyler should be read primarily as satires in order to avoid misinterpretation and to gain a greater understanding of their specific meanings and the eras in which they were written. He also examines the satirical rhetoric and ideological bases of complex works such as John Oliver Killens's The Cotillion and Cecil Brown's The Life and Loves of Mr. Jiveass Nigger—books that are currently out of print and that have received only scant critical attention since they were first published.
Beginning with the tradition of folk humor that originated in West Africa and was forcibly transplanted to the Americas through chattel slavery, Dickson-Carr focuses in each chapter on a particular period of the twentieth century in which the African American satirical novel flourished. He analyzes the historical contexts surrounding African American literature and culture within discrete crucial movements, starting with the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and ending in the present. He also demonstrates how the political, cultural, and literary ethos of each particular moment is manifested and contested in each text.
By examining these texts closely within their historical and ideological contexts, Dickson-Carr shows how African American satirical novels provide the reader of African American literature with a critique of popular ideologies seldom found in nonsatirical works. Providing a better understanding of what satire is and why it is so important for fulfilling many of the goals of African American literature, African American Satire will be an important addition to African American studies.
Constraints on freedom, education, and individual dignity have always been fundamental in determining who is able to write, when, and where. Considering the singular experience of the African American writer, William W. Cook and James Tatum here argue that African American literature did not develop apart from canonical Western literary traditions but instead grew out of those literatures, even as it adapted and transformed the cultural traditions and religions of Africa and the African diaspora along the way.
Tracing the interaction between African American writers and the literatures of ancient Greece and Rome, from the time of slavery and its aftermath to the civil rights era and on into the present, the authors offer a sustained and lively discussion of the life and work of Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, Ralph Ellison, and Rita Dove, among other highly acclaimed poets, novelists, and scholars. Assembling this brilliant and diverse group of African American writers at a moment when our understanding of classical literature is ripe for change, the authors paint an unforgettable portrait of our own reception of “classic” writing, especially as it was inflected by American racial politics.
Werner Sollors’ African American Writing takes a fresh look at what used to be called “Negro literature.” The essays collected here, ranging in topic from Gustavus Vassa/Olaudah Equiano to LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, and in time from the Enlightenment to the Obama presidency, take a literary approach to black writing and present writers as readers and as intellectuals who were or are open to the world.
From W.E.B. Du Bois commenting on Richard Wagner and Elvis Presley, to Zora Neale Hurston attacking Brown v. Board of Ed. in a segregationist newspaper, to Charles Chesnutt’s effigy darkened for the black heritage postage stamp, Sollors alternates between close readings and broader cultural contextualizations to delineate the various aesthetic modes and intellectual exchanges that shaped a series of striking literary works.
Readers will make often-surprising discoveries in the authors’ writing and in their encounters and dialogues with others. The essays, accompanied by Winold Reiss’s pastels, Carl Van Vechten’s photographs, and other portraits, attempt to honor this important literature’s achievement, heterogeneity, and creativity.
African Literature in the Twentieth Century was first published in 1976. 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.
This paperback makes available the major part of Professor Dathorne's The Black Mind.It concentrates on the writings of Africans in various African and European languages and provides insight, both broad and deep, into the Black intellect. Professor Dathorne examines the literature of Africans as spoken or written in their local languages and in French, Portuguese, and English. This extensive survey and interpretation gives the reader a remarkable pathway to an understanding of the Black imagination and its relevance to thought and creativity throughout the world.
The author himself lived in Africa for ten years, and his view is not that of an outsider, since it is as a Black man that he speaks about Black people. Throughout the book, a major theme is the demonstration that, despite slavery and colonialism, Africans remained very close to their own cultures. Professor Dathorne shows that African writers may be, like some Afro-American writers, "marginal men," but that they are Black men and it is as Black men that they feel the nostalgia of their past and the corrosive influences of their present.
O. R. Dathorne is a member of the Department of Black Studies and of the Department of English at Ohio State University. He has taught at universities in Nigeria and Sierra Leone and served as a UNESCO adviser in Sierra Leone. He also has taught at Ohio State University, Howard University, and the University of Wisconsin and lectured at Yale, Federal City College, Michigan State, and other universities in and out of the United States. He is the author of two novels and editor of a number of anthologies of Black literature, and has written widely in journals on his subject.
Featuring the work of the most distinguished scholars in the field, this volume assesses the state of Afro-American literary study and projects a vision of that study for the 1990s. "A rich and rewarding collection."—Choice.
"This diverse and inspired collection . . . testifies to the Afro-Am academy's extraordinary vitality."—Voice Literary Supplement
In Afro-Atlantic Flight Michelle D. Commander traces how post-civil rights Black American artists, intellectuals, and travelers envision literal and figurative flight back to Africa as a means by which to heal the dispossession caused by the slave trade. Through ethnographic, historical, literary, and filmic analyses, Commander shows the ways that cultural producers such as Octavia Butler, Thomas Allen Harris, and Saidiya Hartman engage with speculative thought about slavery, the spiritual realm, and Africa, thereby structuring the imaginary that propels future return flights. She goes on to examine Black Americans’ cultural heritage tourism in and migration to Ghana; Bahia, Brazil; and various sites of slavery in the US South to interrogate the ways that a cadre of actors produces “Africa” and contests master narratives. Compellingly, these material flights do not always satisfy Black Americans’ individualistic desires for homecoming and liberation, leading Commander to focus on the revolutionary possibilities inherent in psychic speculative returns and to argue for the development of a Pan-Africanist stance that works to more effectively address the contemporary resonances of slavery that exist across the Afro-Atlantic.
Afro-Future Females: Black Writers Chart Science Fiction’s Newest New-Wave Trajectory,edited by Marleen S. Barr, is the first combined science fiction critical anthology and short story collection to focus upon black women via written and visual texts. The volume creates a dialogue with existing theories of Afro-Futurism in order to generate fresh ideas about how to apply race to science fiction studies in terms of gender. The contributors, including Hortense Spillers, Samuel R. Delany, Octavia E. Butler, and Steven Barnes, formulate a woman-centered Afro-Futurism by repositioning previously excluded fiction to redefine science fiction as a broader fantastic endeavor. They articulate a platform for scholars to mount a vigorous argument in favor of redefining science fiction to encompass varieties of fantastic writing and, therefore, to include a range of black women’s writing that would otherwise be excluded. Afro-Future Females builds upon Barr’s previous work in black science fiction and fills a gap in the literature. It is the first critical anthology to address the "blackness" of outer space fiction in terms of feminism, emphasizing that it is necessary to revise the very nature of a genre that has been constructed in such a way as to exclude its new black participants. Black science fiction writers alter genre conventions to change how we read and define science fiction itself. The work’s main point: black science fiction is the most exciting literature of the nascent twenty-first century.
Growing out of the music scene, afrofuturism has emerged as an important aesthetic through films such as Black Panther and Get Out. While the significance of these sonic and visual avenues for afrofuturism cannot be underestimated, literature remains fundamental to understanding its full dimensions. Isiah Lavender’s Afrofuturism Rising explores afrofuturism as a narrative practice that enables users to articulate the interconnection between science, technology, and race across centuries.
By engaging with authors as diverse as Phillis Wheatley, David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Ann Jacobs, Samuel R. Delany Jr., Pauline Hopkins, Zora Neale Hurston, and Richard Wright, Afrofuturism Rising extends existing scholarly conversations about who creates and what is created via science fiction. Through a trans-historical rereading of texts by these authors as science fiction, Lavender highlights the ways black experience in America has always been an experience of spatial and temporal dislocation akin to science fiction. Compelling and ambitious in scope, Afrofuturism Rising redefines both science fiction and literature as a whole.
After Brecht: British Epic Theater is the first book to fully explore contemporary British drama in the light of the influence of German playwright Bertolt Brecht. Focusing on the work of Howard Brenton, Edward Bond, Caryl Churchill, David Hare, Trevor Griffiths, and John McGrath, the book examines Brechtian techniques and style within the work of each playwright, while highlighting the divergent development of each.
The book has been enriched by the author's in-depth conversations with the playwrights. The topics covered include contemporary politics and the theater, the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and such well-known fringe companies as Foco Novo, Joint Stock, Portable Theatre, and 7:84. Reinelt examines each playwright within an interpretive frame drawn from an application of Brecht's theories and practice to the historically specific situation of post-war British theater.
The book will appeal to those interested in the relationship between politics and art and contemporary European theater and its antecedents.
"After Brecht represents the best and most detailed engagement with the contemporary British theater scene to date." --Stanton B. Garner, Jr.
"This fine study . . . confronts issues that are important to all students and practitioners of the theater. Sensitive to the uniqueness of each of the playwrights in her study, Reinelt demonstrates that Brechtian theory can be modified in many ways by those who share the belief that 'politics and aesthetics are inseparably linked.'" --Choice
Janelle Reinelt is Chair of the Department of Dramatic Art and Dance, University of California-Davis.
In After Empire Michael Gorra explores how three novelists of empire—Paul Scott, V. S. Naipaul, and Salman Rushdie—have charted the perpetually drawn and perpetually blurred boundaries of identity left in the wake of British imperialism.
Arguing against a model of cultural identity based on race, Gorra begins with Scott's portrait, in The Raj Quartet, of the character Hari Kumar—a seeming oxymoron, an "English boy with a dark brown skin," whose very existence undercuts the belief in an absolute distinction between England and India. He then turns to the opposed figures of Naipaul and Rushdie, the two great novelists of the Indian diaspora. Whereas Naipaul's long and controversial career maps the "deep disorder" spread by both imperialism and its passing, Rushdie demonstrates that certain consequences of that disorder, such as migrancy and mimicry, have themselves become creative forces.
After Empire provides engaging and enlightening readings of postcolonial fiction, showing how imperialism helped shape British national identity—and how, after the end of empire, that identity must now be reconfigured.
Fernando J. Rosenberg explores Latin American artistic production concerned with the possibility of justice after the establishment, rise, and ebb of the human rights narrative around the turn of the last century. Prior to this, key literary and artistic projects articulated Latin American modernity by attempting to address and supplement the state’s inability to embody and enact justice.
Rosenberg argues that since the topics of emancipation, identity, and revolution no longer define social concerns, Latin American artistic production is now situated at a point where the logic and conditions of marketization intersect with the notion of rights through which subjects define themselves politically. Rosenberg grounds his study in discussions of literature, film, and visual art (novels of political refoundations, fictions of truth and reconciliation, visual arts based on cases of disappearance, films about police violence, artistic collaborations with police forces, and judicial documentaries). In doing so, he provides a highly original examination of the paradoxical demands on current artistic works to produce both capital value and foster human dignity.
The fear of falling, the awareness of lost innocence, lost illusions, lost hopes and intentions, of civilization in decline—these are the themes which link literature to theology, both concerned with the shape of human destiny. Otten discusses the continuing viability of the myth of the Fall in literature. He relates a wide variety of romantic and modern works to fundamental issues in modern Christianity.
Political failures and globalization have eroded Ireland’s sovereignty—a decline portended in Irish literature. Surveying the bleak themes in thirty works by modern writers, Declan Kiberd finds audacious experimentation that embodies the defiance and resourcefulness of Ireland’s founding spirit—and a strange kind of hope for a more open nation.
The politics and music of the sixties and early seventies have been the subject of scholarship for many years, but it is only very recently that attention has turned to the cultural production of African American poets.
In "After Mecca," Cheryl Clarke explores the relationship between the Black Arts Movement and black women writers of the period. Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks, Ntozake Shange, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Jayne Cortez, Alice Walker, and others chart the emergence of a new and distinct black poetry and its relationship to the black community's struggle for rights and liberation. Clarke also traces the contributions of these poets to the development of feminism and lesbian-feminism, and the legacy they left for others to build on.
She argues that whether black women poets of the time were writing from within the movement or writing against it, virtually all were responding to it. Using the trope of "Mecca," she explores the ways in which these writers were turning away from white, western society to create a new literacy of blackness.
Provocatively written, this book is an important contribution to the fields of African American literary studies and feminist theory.
Raymond Williams (1921–88) was a Welsh, working-class academic writer and novelist, influential in both the creation of cultural studies as an academic subject and in his attempts to democratize access to education. Here Hywel Dix applies Williams’s theory—that literary texts not only reflect what is happening in a society but also cause certain changes to occur—to literature and film produced in the years since Williams’s death, particularly during the years of political devolution in the United Kingdom. Dix explores the ways in which contemporary Welsh and Scottish writing contributes to devolution and how these writers carry out an imaginative critique of the unitary British state.
After Representation? explores one of the major issues in Holocaust studiesùthe intersection of memory and ethics in artistic expression, particularly within literature.
As experts in the study of literature and culture, the scholars in this collection examine the shifting cultural contexts for Holocaust representation and reveal how writersùwhether they write as witnesses to the Holocaust or at an imaginative distance from the Nazi genocideùarticulate the shadowy borderline between fact and fiction, between event and expression, and between the condition of life endured in atrocity and the hope of a meaningful existence. What imaginative literature brings to the study of the Holocaust is an ability to test the limits of language and its conventions. After Representation? moves beyond the suspicion of representation and explores the changing meaning of the Holocaust for different generations, audiences, and contexts.
Since queer theory originated in the early 1990s, its insights and modes of analysis have been taken up by scholars across the humanities and social sciences. In After Sex? prominent contributors to the development of queer studies offer personal reflections on the field’s history, accomplishments, potential, and limitations. They consider the purpose of queer theory and the extent to which it is or is not defined by its engagement with sex and sexuality. For many of the contributors, a broad notion of sexuality is essential to queer thought. At the same time, some of them caution against creating an all-embracing idea of queerness, because it empties the term “queer” of meaning and assumes the universality of ideas developed in the North American academy. Some essays recall the political urgency of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when gay and lesbian activist and queer theory projects converged in response to the AIDS crisis. Other pieces exemplify more recent trends in queer critique, including the turn to affect and the debates surrounding the “antisocial thesis,” which associates queerness with the repudiation of heteronormative forms of belonging. Contributors discuss queer theory’s engagement with questions of transnationality and globalization, temporality and historical periodization. Meditating on the past and present of queer studies, After Sex? illuminates its future.
Contributors. Lauren Berlant, Leo Bersani, Michael Cobb, Ann Cvetkovich, Lee Edelman, Richard Thompson Ford, Carla Freccero, Elizabeth Freeman, Jonathan Goldberg, Janet Halley, Neville Hoad, Joseph Litvak, Heather Love, Michael Lucey, Michael Moon, José Esteban Muñoz, Jeff Nunokawa, Andrew Parker, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Richard Rambuss, Erica Rand, Bethany Schneider, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Kate Thomas
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 Testimony: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Holocaust Narrative for the Future collects sixteen essays written with the awareness that we are on the verge of a historical shift in our relation to the Third Reich’s programmatic genocide. Soon there will be no living survivors of the Holocaust, and therefore people not directly connected to the event must assume the full responsibility for representing it. The contributors believe that this shift has broad consequences for narratives of the Holocaust. By virtue of being “after” the accounts of survivors, storytellers must find their own ways of coming to terms with the historical reality that those testimonies have tried to communicate. The ethical and aesthetic dimensions of these stories will be especially crucial to their effectiveness. Guided by these principles and employing the tools of contemporary narrative theory, the contributors analyze a wide range of Holocaust narratives—fictional and nonfictional, literary and filmic—for the dual purpose of offering fresh insights and identifying issues and strategies likely to be significant in the future. In addition to the editors, the contributors are Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan, Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, Anniken Greve, Jeremy Hawthorn, Marianne Hirsch, Irene Kacandes, Phillipe Mesnard, J. Hillis Miller, Michael Rothberg, Beatrice Sandberg, Anette H. Storeide, Anne Thelle, and Janet Walker.
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.
In this bold book, Samuel Cohen asserts the literary and historical importance of the period between the fall of the Berlin wall and that of the Twin Towers in New York. With refreshing clarity, he examines six 1990s novels and two post-9/11 novels that explore the impact of the end of the Cold War: Pynchon's Mason & Dixon, Roth's American Pastoral, Morrison's Paradise, O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods, Didion's The Last Thing He Wanted, Eugenides's Middlesex, Lethem's Fortress of Solitude, and DeLillo's Underworld. Cohen emphasizes how these works reconnect the past to a present that is ironically keen on denying that connection. Exploring the ways ideas about paradise and pastoral, difference and exclusion, innocence and righteousness, triumph and trauma deform the stories Americans tell themselves about their nation’s past, After the End of History challenges us to reconsider these works in a new light, offering fresh, insightful readings of what are destined to be classic works of literature.
At the same time, Cohen enters into the theoretical discussion about postmodern historical understanding. Throwing his hat in the ring with force and style, he confronts not only Francis Fukuyama’s triumphalist response to the fall of the Soviet Union but also the other literary and political “end of history” claims put forth by such theorists as Fredric Jameson and Walter Benn Michaels. In a straightforward, affecting style, After the End of History offers us a new vision for the capabilities and confines of contemporary fiction.
In this work, the first critical monograph on Suite française, Nathan Bracher shows how, first amid the chaos and panic of the May-June 1940 debacle, and then within the unsettling new order of the German occupation, Némirovsky's novel casts a particularly revealing light on the behavior and attitudes of the French as well as on the highly problematic interaction of France's social classes
After the Nation proposes a series of groundbreaking new approaches to novels, essays, and short stories by Carlos Fuentes and Thomas Pynchon within the framework of a hemispheric American studies. García-Caro offers a pioneering comparativist approach to the contemporary American and Mexican literary canons and their underlying nationalist encodement through the study of a wide range of texts by Pynchon and Fuentes which question and historicize in different ways the processes of national definition and myth-making deployed in the drawing of literary borders. After the Nation looks at these literary narratives as postnational satires that aim to unravel and denounce the combined hegemonic processes of modernity and nationalism while they start to contemplate the ensuing postnational constellations. These are texts that playfully challenge the temporal and spatial designs of national themes while they point to and debase “holy” borders, international borders as well as the internal lines where narratives of nation are embodied and consecrated.
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.
Amid the religious tumult of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, English scholars, preachers, and dramatists examined, debated, and refashioned tales concerning Pope Joan, a ninth-century woman who, as legend has it, cross-dressed her way to the papacy only to have her imposture exposed when she gave birth during a solemn procession.
The legend concerning a popess had first taken written form in the thirteenth century and for several hundred years was more or less accepted. The Reformation, however, polarized discussions of the legend, pitting Catholics, who denied the story’s veracity, against Protestants, who suspected a cover-up and instantly cited Joan as evidence of papal depravity. In this heated environment, writers reimagined Joan variously as a sorceress, a hermaphrodite, and even a noteworthy author.
The Afterlife of Pope Joan examines sixteenth- and seventeenth-century debates concerning the popess’s existence, uncovering the disputants’ historiographic methods, rules of evidence, rhetorical devices, and assumptions concerning what is probable and possible for women and transvestites. Author Craig Rustici then investigates the cultural significance of a series of notions advanced in those debates: the claim that Queen Elizabeth I was a popess in her own right, the charge that Joan penned a book of sorcery, and the curious hypothesis that the popess was not a disguised woman at all but rather a man who experienced a sort of spontaneous sex change.
The Afterlife of Pope Joan draws upon the discourses of religion, politics, natural philosophy, and imaginative literature, demonstrating how the popess functioned as a powerful rhetorical instrument and revealing anxieties and ambivalences about gender roles that persist even today.
Craig M. Rustici is Associate Professor of English at Hofstra University.
In The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery Alys Eve Weinbaum investigates the continuing resonances of Atlantic slavery in the cultures and politics of human reproduction that characterize contemporary biocapitalism. As a form of racial capitalism that relies on the commodification of the human reproductive body, biocapitalism is dependent upon what Weinbaum calls the slave episteme—the racial logic that drove four centuries of slave breeding in the Americas and Caribbean. Weinbaum outlines how the slave episteme shapes the practice of reproduction today, especially through use of biotechnology and surrogacy. Engaging with a broad set of texts, from Toni Morrison's Beloved and Octavia Butler's dystopian speculative fiction to black Marxism, histories of slavery, and legal cases involving surrogacy, Weinbaum shows how black feminist contributions from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s constitute a powerful philosophy of history—one that provides the means through which to understand how reproductive slavery haunts the present.
During the age of dictatorships, Latin American prisons became a symbol for the vanquishing of political opponents, many of whom were never seen again. In the postdictatorship era of the 1990s, a number of these prisons were repurposed into shopping malls, museums, and memorials. Susana Draper uses the phenomenon of the “opening” of prisons and detention centers to begin a dialog on conceptualizations of democracy and freedom in post-dictatorship Latin America. Focusing on the Southern Cone nations of Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina, Draper examines key works in architecture, film, and literature to peel away the veiled continuity of dictatorial power structures in ensuing consumer cultures.
The afterlife of prisons became an important tool in the “forgetting” of past politics, while also serving as a reminder to citizens of the liberties they now enjoyed. In Draper’s analysis, these symbols led the populace to believe they had attained freedom, although they had only witnessed the veneer of democracy—in the ability to vote and consume.
In selected literary works by Roberto Bolaño, Eleuterio Fernández Huidoboro, and Diamela Eltit and films by Alejandro Agresti and Marco Bechis, Draper finds further evidence of the emptiness and melancholy of underachieved goals in the afterlife of dictatorships. The social changes that did not occur, the inability to effectively mourn the losses of a now-hidden past, the homogenizing effects of market economies, and a yearning for the promises of true freedom are thematic currents underlying much of these texts.
Draper’s study of the manipulation of culture and consumerism under the guise of democracy will have powerful implications not only for Latin Americanists but also for those studying neoliberal transformations globally.
In times of liberal despair it helps to have someone like John Carlos Rowe put things into perspective, in this case, with a collection of essays that asks the question, “Must we throw out liberalism’s successes with the neoliberal bathwater?” Rowe first lays out a genealogy of early twentieth-century modernists, such as Gertrude Stein, John Dos Passos, William Faulkner, and Ralph Ellison, with an eye toward stressing their transnationally engaged liberalism and their efforts to introduce into the literary avant-garde the concerns of politically marginalized groups, whether defined by race, class, or gender. The second part of the volume includes essays on the works of Harper Lee, Thomas Berger, Louise Erdrich, and Philip Roth, emphasizing the continuity of efforts to represent domestic political and social concerns. While critical of the increasingly conservative tone of the neoliberalism of the past quarter-century, Rowe rescues the value of liberalism’s sympathetic and socially engaged intent, even as he criticizes modern liberalism’s inability to work transnationally.
The Afterlives of Specimens explores the space between science and sentiment, the historical moment when the human cadaver became both lost love object and subject of anatomical violence. Walt Whitman witnessed rapid changes in relations between the living and the dead. In the space of a few decades, dissection evolved from a posthumous punishment inflicted on criminals to an element of preservationist technology worthy of the presidential corpse of Abraham Lincoln. Whitman transitioned from a fervent opponent of medical bodysnatching to a literary celebrity who left behind instructions for his own autopsy, including the removal of his brain for scientific study.
Grounded in archival discoveries, Afterlives traces the origins of nineteenth-century America’s preservation compulsion, illuminating the influences of botanical, medical, spiritualist, and sentimental discourses on Whitman’s work. Tuggle unveils previously unrecognized connections between Whitman and the leading “medical men” of his era, such as the surgeon John H. Brinton, founding curator of the Army Medical Museum, and Silas Weir Mitchell, the neurologist who discovered phantom limb syndrome. Remains from several amputee soldiers whom Whitman nursed in the Washington hospitals became specimens in the Army Medical Museum.
Tuggle is the first scholar to analyze Whitman’s role in medically memorializing the human cadaver and its abandoned parts.
Aftermaths is a collection of essays offering compelling new ideas on exile, migration, and diaspora that have emerged in the global age. The ten contributors—well-established scholars and promising new voices—work in different disciplines and draw from diverse backgrounds as they present rich case studies from around the world. In seeking fresh perspectives on the movement of people and ideas, the essays included here look to the power of the aesthetic experience, especially in literature and film, to unsettle existing theoretical paradigms and enable the rethinking of conventionalized approaches.
Marcus Bullock and Peter Y. Paik, in bringing this collection together, show we have reached a moment in history when it is imperative to question prevailing intellectual models. The interconnectedness of the world's economies, the contributors argue, can exacerbate existing antagonisms or create new ones. With essays by Ihab Hassan, Paul Brodwin, and Helen Fehervary, among others, Aftermaths engages not only with important academic topics but also with the leading political issues of the day.
On 28 March, 1941, at the height of Hitler's victories during the Second World War, Virginia Woolf filled her pockets with stones and drowned herself in the River Ouse near her home in Sussex. At the time of her death some voices in the press attacked her for showing cowardice in the face of the enemy and for setting a bad example to the general population. Woolf's suicide has been the subject of controversy for the media, for literary scholars, and for her biographers ever since.
Just when it may seem that nothing else could be said about Virginia Woolf and the ambiguous details of her suicide, Afterwords provides an entirely fresh perspective. It makes available to a wide readership for the first time letters sent to Leonard Woolf and Vanessa Bell (Virginia Woolf's sister) in the aftermath of the event. This unique volume brings together over two hundred letters from T. S. Eliot, H. G. Wells, May Sarton, Vita Sackville-West, Edith Sitwell, E. M. Forster, Radclyffe Hall, and many others, including political figures and religious leaders. In addition, informative annotations reveal the identities of many unexpected condolence-letter writers from among the general public.
In her introduction, editor Sybil Oldfield confronts the contemporary controversy over Woolf's suicide note, arguing that no one who knew Woolf or her work believed that she had deserted Britain. The ensuing collection of letters supports Oldfield's assertion. In elegant prose that rises to the stature of the occasion, these writers share remembrances of Virginia Woolf in life, comment on the quality of her work and her antifascist values, and reveal previously unknown facets of her capacity for friendship.
A richly deserved tribute to the life of an extraordinary woman as well as a testimony to the human capacity for sympathy, Afterwords is essential reading for anyone interested in the life, death, and enduring impact of Virginia Woolf.
The work of black writers, editors, publishers, and librarians is deeply embedded in the history of American print culture, from slave narratives to digital databases. While the printed word can seem democratizing, it remains that the infrastructures of print and digital culture can be as limiting as they are enabling. Contributors to this volume explore the relationship between expression and such frameworks, analyzing how different mediums, library catalogs, and search engines shape the production and reception of written and visual culture. Topics include antebellum literature, the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement; “post-Black” art, the role of black librarians, and how present-day technologies aid or hinder the discoverability of work by African Americans. Against a Sharp White Background covers elements of production, circulation, and reception of African American writing across a range of genres and contexts. This collection challenges mainstream book history and print culture to understand that race and racialization are inseparable from the study of texts and their technologies.
In much the same way that photography forced painting to move in new directions, the advent of the World Wide Web, with its proliferation of easily transferable and manipulated text, forces us to think about writing, creativity, and the materiality of language in new ways. In Against Expression, editors Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith present the most innovative works responding to the challenges posed by these developments.
Charles Bernstein has described conceptual poetry as "poetry pregnant with thought." Against Expression, the premier anthology of conceptual writing, presents work that is by turns thoughtful, funny, provocative, and disturbing. Dworkin and Goldsmith, two of the leading spokespersons and practitioners of conceptual writing, chart the trajectory of the conceptual aesthetic from early precursors including Samuel Beckett and Marcel Duchamp to the most prominent of today’s writers. Nearly all of the major avant-garde groups of the past century are represented here, including Dada, OuLiPo, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, and Flarf to name just a few, but all the writers are united in their imaginative appropriation of found and generated texts and their exploration of nonexpressive language. Against Expression is a timely collection and an invaluable resource for readers and writers alike.
Edited by Alastair Hunt and Stephanie Youngblood, with an afterword by Lee Edelman Northwestern University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PN56.L52A34 2016 | Dewey Decimal 809.9335
"At a time when the old humanist ideas have shown themselves to be far less effective than political resentment, these essays open new ways of thinking about the moment in which we live." —Radical Philosophy
At the end of apartheid, under pressure from local and transnational capital and the hegemony of Western-style parliamentary democracy, South Africans felt called upon to normalize their conceptions of economics, politics, and culture in line with these Western models. In Against Normalization, however, Anthony O’Brien examines recent South African literature and theoretical debate which take a different line, resisting this neocolonial outcome, and investigating the role of culture in the formation of a more radically democratic society. O’Brien brings together an unusual array of contemporary South African writing: cultural theory and debate, worker poetry, black and white feminist writing, Black Consciousness drama, the letters of exiled writers, and postapartheid fiction and film. Paying subtle attention to well-known figures like Nadine Gordimer, Bessie Head, and Njabulo Ndebele, but also foregrounding less-studied writers like Ingrid de Kok, Nise Malange, Maishe Maponya, and the Zimbabwean Dambudzo Marechera, he reveals in their work the construction of a political aesthetic more radically democratic than the current normalization of nationalism, ballot-box democracy, and liberal humanism in culture could imagine. Juxtaposing his readings of these writers with the theoretical traditions of postcolonial thinkers about race, gender, and nation like Paul Gilroy, bell hooks, and Gayatri Spivak, and with others such as Samuel Beckett and Vaclav Havel, O’Brien adopts a uniquely comparatist and internationalist approach to understanding South African writing and its relationship to the cultural settlement after apartheid. With its appeal to specialists in South African fiction, poetry, history, and politics, to other Africanists, and to those in the fields of colonial, postcolonial, race, and gender studies, Against Normalization will make a significant intervention in the debates about cultural production in the postcolonial areas of global capitalism.
Recognized in America chiefly for his films, Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922–1975) in fact reinvented interdisciplinarity in postwar Europe. Pasolini self-confessedly approached the cinematic image through painting, and the numerous allusions to early modern frescoes and altarpieces in his films have been extensively documented. Far less understood, however, is Pasolini’s fraught relationship to the aesthetic experiments of his own age. In Against the Avant-Garde, Ara H. Merjian demonstrates how Pasolini’s campaign against neocapitalist culture fueled his hostility to the avant-garde. An atheist indebted to Catholic ritual; a revolutionary communist inimical to the creed of 1968; a homosexual hostile to the project of gay liberation: Pasolini refused the politics of identity in favor of a scandalously paradoxical practice, one vital to any understanding of his legacy. Against the Avant-Garde examines these paradoxes through case studies from the 1960s and 1970s, concluding with a reflection on Pasolini’s far-reaching influence on post-1970s art. Merjian not only reconsiders the multifaceted work of Italy’s most prominent postwar intellectual, but also the fraught politics of a European neo-avant-garde grappling with a new capitalist hegemony.
In Against the Closet, Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman interrogates and challenges cultural theorists' interpretations of sexual transgression in African American literature. She argues that, from the mid-nineteenth century through the twentieth, black writers used depictions of erotic transgression to contest popular theories of identity, pathology, national belonging, and racial difference in American culture. Connecting metaphors of sexual transgression to specific historical periods, Abdur-Rahman explains how tropes such as sadomasochism and incest illuminated the psychodynamics of particular racial injuries and suggested forms of social repair and political redress from the time of slavery, through post-Reconstruction and the civil rights and black power movements, to the late twentieth century.
Abdur-Rahman brings black feminist, psychoanalytic, critical race, and poststructuralist theories to bear on literary genres from slave narratives to science fiction. Analyzing works by African American writers, including Frederick Douglass, Pauline Hopkins, Harriet Jacobs, James Baldwin, and Octavia Butler, she shows how literary representations of transgressive sexuality expressed the longings of African Americans for individual and collective freedom. Abdur-Rahman contends that those representations were fundamental to the development of African American forms of literary expression and modes of political intervention and cultural self-fashioning.
In Against the Gallows, Paul Christian Jones explores the intriguing cooperation of America’s writers—including major figures such as Walt Whitman, John Greenleaf Whittier, E. D. E. N. Southworth, and Herman Melville—with reformers, politicians, clergymen, and periodical editors who attempted to end the practice of capital punishment in the United States during the 1840s and 1850s. In an age of passionate reform efforts, the antigallows movement enjoyed broad popularity, waging its campaign in legislatures, pulpits, newspapers, and literary journals.
Although it failed in its ultimate goal of ending hangings across the United States, the movement did achieve various improvements in the practices of the justice system, including reducing the number of capital crimes, eliminating public executions in most northern states, and abolishing capital punishment completely in three states.
Although a few historians have studied the antebellum movement against capital punishment, until now very little attention has been paid to the role of America’s writers in these efforts. Jones’s study recovers the relationship between the nation’s literary figures and the movement against the death penalty, illustrating that the editors of literary journals actively encouraged and published antigallows writing, that popular crime novelists created a sympathy toward criminals that led readers to question the state’s justifications for capital punishment, that poets crafted verse that advocated strongly for Christian sympathy for criminals that coincided with an antipathy to the death penalty, and that female sentimental writers fashioned melodramatic narratives that illustrated the injustice of the hanging and reimagined the justice system itself as a sympathetic subject capable of incorporating compassion into its workings and seeing reform rather than revenge as its ends.
Against the Grain is a collection of interviews with nine small press publishers, each one characterized by strength of resolve and a dedication to good books. Each press reflects, perhaps more directly than any large trade publisher could, the character of its founder; and each has earned its own place in the select group of important small presses in America.
This collection is the first of its kind to explore with the publishers themselves the historical, aesthetic, practical, and personal impulses behind literary publishing. The publishers included are Harry Duncan (the Cummington Press), Lawrence Ferlinghetti (City Lights), David Godine (David R. Godine), Daniel Halpern (the Ecco Press), Sam Hamill and Tree Swenson (Copper Canyon Press), James Laughlin (New Directions), John Martin (Black Sparrow), and Jonathan Williams (the Jargon Society). Their passion for books, their belief in their individual visions of what publishing is or could be, their inspired mulishness crackle on the page.
"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.