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.
Anatomy of Murder identifies and explores three basic fictional forms dealing with murder and detection—mystery, detective, and crime fiction. Mystery fiction takes place in a centered world, one whose most distinctive characteristic is motivation. Covering the forms of murder fiction, the book examines texts by Doyle, Christie, Sayers, Hammett, Chandler, Highsmith, Jim Thompson, Thomas Harris, and others.
Technological innovation has long threatened the printed book, but ultimately, most digital alternatives to the codex have been onscreen replications. While a range of critics have debated the benefits and dangers of this media technology, contemporary and avant-garde writers have offered more nuanced considerations.
Taking up works from Andy Warhol, Kevin Young, Don DeLillo, and Hari Kunzru, Archival Fictions considers how these writers have constructed a speculative history of media technology through formal experimentation. Although media technologies have determined the extent of what can be written, recorded, and remembered in the immediate aftermath of print's hegemony, Paul Benzon argues that literary form provides a vital means for critical engagement with the larger contours of media history. Drawing on approaches from media poetics, film studies, and the digital humanities, this interdisciplinary study demonstrates how authors who engage technology through form continue to imagine new roles for print literature across the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
Can form be political? Do specific aesthetic and literary forms necessarily point us toward a progressive or reactionary politics? Artists, authors, and critics like to imagine so, but what happens when they lose control of the politics of their forms? In Art, Theory, Revolution: The Turn to Generality in Contemporary Literature, Mitchum Huehls argues that art’s interest in revolution did not end with the twentieth century, as some critics would have it, but rather that the relationship between literary forms and politics has been severed, resulting in a twenty-first century investment in forms of generality such as genre, gesture, constructivism, and abstraction. Focusing on three particular domains (art, theory, and revolution) in which the relationship between form and politics has collapsed, Huehls shows how twenty-first-century US fiction writers such as Chris Kraus, Percival Everett, Jonathan Safran Foer, Rachel Kushner, Salvador Plascencia, and Sheila Heti are turning to forms of generality that lead us toward a more modest, ad hoc, context-dependent way to think about the politics of form. The result is the first major study of generality in literature.
The Body of Poetry collects essays, reviews, and memoir by Annie Finch, one of the brightest poet-critics of her generation. Finch's germinal work on the art of verse has earned her the admiration of a wide range of poets, from new formalists to hip-hop writers. And her ongoing commitment to women's poetry has brought Finch a substantial following as a "postmodern poetess" whose critical writing embraces the past while establishing bold new traditions. The Body of Poetry includes essays on metrical diversity, poetry and music, the place of women poets in the canon, and on poets Emily Dickinson, Phillis Wheatley, Sara Teasdale, Audre Lorde, Marilyn Hacker, and John Peck, among other topics. In Annie Finch's own words, these essays were all written with one aim: "to build a safe space for my own poetry. . . . [I]n the attempt, they will also have helped to nourish a new kind of American poetics, one that will prove increasingly open to poetry's heart."
Poet, translator, and critic Annie Finch is director of the Stonecoast low-residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. She is co-editor, with Kathrine Varnes, of An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art, and author of The Ghost of Meter: Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse, Eve, and Calendars. She is the winner of the eleventh annual Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award for scholars who have made a lasting contribution to the art and science of versification.
Exploding the myth that the Bible was largely unknown to medieval lay folk, Book and Verse presents the first comprehensive catalog of Middle English biblical literature: a body of work that, because of its accessibility and familiarity, was the primary biblical resource of the English Middle Ages. The medieval Bible, much like the Bible today, consists in practical terms not of a set of texts within a canon but of those stories which, because of a combination of liturgical significance and picturesque qualities, form a provisional "Bible" in the popular imagination. As James Morey explains in his introduction, although the Latin Bible was not accessible to the average English-speaker, paraphrases— systematic appropriation and refashioning of biblical texts—served as a medium through which the Bible was promulgated in the vernacular. This explains why biblical allusions, models, and large-scale appropriations of biblical narrative pervade nearly every medieval genre. Book and Verse is an indispensable guide to the variety and extent of biblical literature in England, exclusive of drama and the Wycliffite Bible that appeared between the twelfth and the fifteenth centuries. Entries provide detailed information on how much of what parts of the Bible appear in Middle English and where this biblical material can be found. Comprehensive indexing by name, keyword, and biblical verse allows a researcher to find, for example, all the occurrences of the Flood Story or of the encounter between Elijah and the Widow of Sarephta. An invaluable resource, Book and Verse provides the first easy access to the "popular Bible" assembled before and after John Wyclif's translation of the Vulgate into English.
Applying systems theory to the comedies of Chekhov, Balzac, Kleist, Moliere, and Shakespeare, A Concept of Dramatic Genre and the Comedy of a New Type: Chess, Literature, and Film approaches dramatic genre from the point of view of the degree of richness and strength of a character’s potential. Its main focus is to establish a methodology for analyzing the potential from multidimensional perspectives, using systems thinking. The whole concept is an alternative to the Aristotelian plot-based approach and is applied to an analysis of western and eastern European authors as well as contemporary American film.
This innovative study consists of three parts: The first part is mostly theoretical, proposing a new definition of the dramatic as a category linked to general systems phenomena and offering a new classification of dramatic genre. In the second part, Ulea offers a textual analysis of some works based on this new classification. She analyzes comedies, tragedies, and dramas on the same or similar topics in order to reveal what makes them belong to opposite types of dramatic genre.
Additionally, she considers the question of fate and chance, with regard to tragedy and comedy, from the point of view of the predispositioning theory. In the third part, Ulea explores an analysis of the comedy of a new type—CNT. Her emphasis is on the integration of the part and the whole in approaching the protagonist’s potential. She introduces the term quasi-strong potential in order to reveal the illusory strength of protagonists of the CNT and to show the technique of CNT’s analysis and synthesis.
Ulea’s research begins with the notion of the comic, traditionally considered synonymous with the laughable, and attempts to approach it as independent from the laughable and laughter. The necessity to do so is dictated by the desire to penetrate the enigmatic nature of Chekhov’s comedy. The result is A Concept of Dramatic Genre and the Comedy of a New Type: Chess, Literature, and Film, a completely new approach to potential and systems thinking—which has never been a focus of dramatic theory before. Such potential is the touchstone of the comic and comedy, their permanent basic characteristic, the heart and axis around which the comedic world spins.
Since its publication in 1990, Critical Terms for Literary Study has become a landmark introduction to the work of literary theory—giving tens of thousands of students an unparalleled encounter with what it means to do theory and criticism. Significantly expanded, this new edition features six new chapters that confront, in different ways, the growing understanding of literary works as cultural practices.
These six new chapters are "Popular Culture," "Diversity," "Imperialism/Nationalism," "Desire," "Ethics," and "Class," by John Fiske, Louis Menand, Seamus Deane, Judith Butler, Geoffrey Galt Harpham, and Daniel T. O'Hara, respectively. Each new essay adopts the approach that has won this book such widespread acclaim: each provides a concise history of a literary term, critically explores the issues and questions the term raises, and then puts theory into practice by showing the reading strategies the term permits.
Exploring the concepts that shape the way we read, the essays combine to provide an extraordinary introduction to the work of literature and literary study, as the nation's most distinguished scholars put the tools of critical practice vividly to use.
In culture and scholarship, science-fictional worlds are perceived as unrealistic and altogether imaginary. Seo-Young Chu offers a bold challenge to this perception of the genre, arguing instead that science fiction is a form of “high-intensity realism” capable of representing non-imaginary objects that elude more traditional, “realist” modes of representation. Powered by lyric forces that allow it to transcend the dichotomy between the literal and the figurative, science fiction has the capacity to accommodate objects of representation that are themselves neither entirely figurative nor entirely literal in nature. Chu explores the globalized world, cyberspace, war trauma, the Korean concept of han, and the rights of robots, all as referents for which she locates science-fictional representations in poems, novels, music, films, visual pieces, and other works ranging within and without previous demarcations of the science fiction genre. In showing the divide between realism and science fiction to be illusory, Do Metaphors Dream of Literal Sleep? sheds new light on the value of science fiction as an aesthetic and philosophical resource—one that matters more and more as our everyday realities grow increasingly resistant to straightforward representation.
Of all developments surrounding hypermedia, none has been as hotly or frequently debated as the conjunction of fiction and digital technology. J. Yellowlees Douglas considers the implications of this union. She looks at the new light that interactive narratives may shed on theories of reading and interpretation and the possibilities for hypertext novels, World Wide Web-based short stories, and cinematic, interactive narratives on CD-ROM. She confronts questions that are at the center of the current debate: Does an interactive story demand too much from readers? Does the concept of readerly choice destroy the integrity of an author's vision? Does interactivity turn reading fiction from "play" into "work"--too much work? Will hypertext fiction overtake the novel as a form of art or entertainment? And what might future interactive books look like?
The book examines criticism on interactive fiction from both proponents and skeptics and examines similarities and differences between print and hypertext fiction. It looks closely at critically acclaimed interactive works, including Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden and Michael Joyce's Afternoon: A Story that illuminate how these hypertext narratives "work." While she sees this as a still-evolving technology and medium, the author identifies possible developments for the future of storytelling from outstanding examples of Web-based fiction and CD-ROM narratives, possibilities that will enable narratives to both portray the world with greater realism an to transcend the boundaries of novels and films, character and plot alike.
Written to be accessible to a wide range of readers, this lively and accessibly-written volume will appeal to those interested in technology and cyberculture, as well as to readers familiar with literary criticism and modern fiction.
J. Yellowlees Douglas is the Director of the William and Grace Dial Center for Written and Oral Communication, University of Florida. She is the author of numerous articles and essays on the subject of hypertext and interactive literature.
In the field of Russian literary studies, there is surprisingly little discussion of independent genres and their effect on the creativity of an era. This important text on the quasi-public "friendly letter" of nineteenth-century Russia addresses this deficiency, examining the tradition of familiar letter writing that developed in the early 1800s among literary circles that included such luminaries as Pushkin, Karamzin, and Turgenev, and arguing that these letters constitute a distinct literary genre.
This is the first complete modern edition of The Female Marine, a fictional cross-dressing trilogy originally published between 1815 and 1818. Enormously popular among New England readers, the tale in various versions appeared in no fewer than nineteen editions over that brief four-year span. This new edition appends three other contemporary accounts of cross-dressing and urban vice which, together with The Female Marine, provide a unique portrayal of prostitution and interracial city life in early-nineteenth-century America.
The alternately racy and moralistic narrative recounts the adventures of a young woman from rural Massachusetts who is seduced by a false-hearted lover, flees to Boston, and is entrapped in a brothel. She eventually escapes by disguising herself as a man and serves with distinction on board the U.S. frigate Constitution during the War of 1812. After subsequent onshore adventures in and out of male dress, she is happily married to a wealthy New York gentleman.
In his introduction, Daniel A. Cohen situates the story in both its literary and historical contexts. He explains how the tale draws upon a number of popular Anglo-American literary genres, including the female warrior narrative, the sentimental novel, and the urban exposé. He then explores how The Female Marine reflects early-nineteenth-century anxieties concerning changing gender norms, the expansion of urban prostitution, the growth of Boston's African American community, and feelings of guilt aroused by New England's notoriously unpatriotic activities during the War of 1812.
Form and Reform: Reading across the Fifteenth Century challenges the idea of any definitive late medieval moment and explores instead the provocatively diverse, notably untidy, and very rich literary culture of the age. These essays from leading medievalists, edited by Shannon Gayk and Kathleen Tonry, both celebrate and complicate the reemergence of the fifteenth century in literary studies. Moreover, this is the first collection to concentrate on the period between 1450 and 1500—the crucial five decades, this volume argues, that must be understood to comprehend the entire century’s engagement with literary form in shifting historical contexts.
The three parts of the collection read the categories of form and reform in light of both aesthetic and historical contexts, taking up themes of prose and prosody, generic experimentation, and shifts in literary production. The first section considers how attention to material texts might revise our understanding of form; the second revisits devotional writing within and beyond the context of reform; and the final section plays out different perspectives on the work of John Skelton that each challenge and test notions of the fifteenth century in literary history.
In a focused and compelling discussion, Anis Bawarshi looks to genre theory for what it can contribute to a refined understanding of invention. In describing what he calls "the genre function," he explores what is at stake for the study and teaching of writing to imagine invention as a way that writers locate themselves, via genres, within various positions and activities. He argues, in fact, that invention is a process in which writers are acted upon by genres as much as they act themselves. Such an approach naturally requires the composition scholar to re-place invention from the writer to the sites of action, the genres, in which the writer participates. This move calls for a thoroughly rhetorical view of invention, roughly in the tradition of Richard Young, Janice Lauer, and those who have followed them.
Instead of mastering notions of "good" writing, Bawarshi feels that students gain more from learning how to adapt socially and rhetorically as they move from one "genred" site of action to the next.
In recent decades, genre studies has focused attention on how genres mediate social activities within workplace and academic settings. Genre and the Performance of Publics moves beyond institutional settings to explore public contexts that are less hierarchical, broadening the theory of how genres contribute to the interconnected and dynamic performances of public life.
Chapters examine how genres develop within publics and how genres tend to mediate performances in public domains, setting up a discussion between public sphere scholarship and rhetorical genre studies. The volume extends the understanding of genres as not only social ways of organizing texts or mediating relationships within institutions but as dynamic performances themselves.
By exploring how genres shape the formation of publics, Genre and the Performance of Publicsbrings rhetoric/composition and public sphere studies into dialogue and enhances the understanding of public genre performances in ways that contribute to research on and teaching of public discourse.
What do Amsterdam prostitutes, NASA astronauts, cross-dressing texts, and Star Trek characters have in common? Only Marleen Barr knows for sure. In Genre Fission, the award-winning author revitalizes literary and cultural theory by proposing an entirely new discourse practice of examining the points where genres and attendant meanings first converge, then reemerge as something new. Part literary analysis, part cultural studies, part feminist critique flavored with a smattering of science fiction and utopian studies, it is witty and eccentric, entertaining and enlightening.
Barr expands postmodern assumptions about cultural studies by suggesting that "genre fission" is occurring among discrete literary and cultural "types" of events--mainstream novels, science fiction, historical narratives, film, paintings, and museum displays. For her literary insights, Barr turns her attention to such mainstream authors as Saul Bellow, John Updike, Marge Piercy, and John Barth as well as science fiction writers Ursula Le Guin and Octavia Butler and Hispanic American writers Julia Alvarez, Ana Castillo, and Cristina García, among others.
Barr moves from literary to culture studies by addressing such phenomena from contemporary mass culture as the urban landscapes of New York and Los Angeles, Jackie Kennedy, the Star Trek industry, Lynn Redgrave, Amsterdam's red light district, Lorena Bobbitt, and the Apollo astronauts--to provide only a few of the relevant examples. Thus Genre Fission attains what Barr herself designates (in describing the art of Judy Chicago and Lee Bontecou) as "utopian interweavings of difference," crossing numerous boundaries in order to frame a larger territory for exploration.
This collection of new essays addresses a topic of established and expanding critical interest throughout the humanities. It demonstrates that genre matters in a manner not constrained by disciplinary boundaries and includes new work on Genre Theory and applications of thinking about genre from Aristotle to Derrida and beyond. The essays focus on economies of expectation and competency, genre as media form, recent developments in television broadcast genres, translation and genericity, the role played by genre in film publicity, gender and genre, genre in fiction, and the problematics of classification. An introductory essay places the contributions in the context of a wide range of thinking about genre in the arts, media and humanities. The volume will be of interest to both undergraduates and postgraduates, especially those following courses on Genre Theory and Genre Criticism, and to academics working in a range of subject areas such as Cultural Studies, Film Studies, Media Studies and Literary Studies.
How did banking, borrowing, investing, and even losing money—in other words, participating in the modern financial system—come to seem likeroutine activities of everydaylife? Genres of the Credit Economy addressesthis question by examining the history of financial instruments and representations of finance in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain.
Chronicling the process by which some of our most important conceptual categories were naturalized, Mary Poovey explores complex relationships among forms of writing that are not usually viewed together, from bills of exchange and bank checks, to realist novels and Romantic poems, to economic theory and financial journalism. Taking up all early forms of financial and monetarywriting, Poovey argues that these genres mediated for early modern Britons the operations of a market system organized around credit and debt. By arguing that genre is a critical tool for historical and theoretical analysis and an agent in the events that formed the modern world, Poovey offers a new way to appreciate the character of the credit economy and demonstrates the contribution historians and literary scholars can make to understanding its operations.
Much more than an exploration of writing on and around money, Genres of the Credit Economy offers startling insights about the evolution of disciplines and the separation of factual and fictional genres.
How do men imagine women? In the poetry of Petrarch and his English successors—Wyatt, Donne, and Marvell—the male poet persistently imagines pursuing a woman, Laura, whom he pursues even as she continues to deny his affections. Critics have long held that, in objectifying Laura, these male-authored texts deny the imaginative, intellectual, and physical life of the woman they idealize. In Laura, Barbara L. Estrin counters this traditional view by focusing not on the generative powers of the male poet, but on the subjectivity of the imagined woman and the imaginative space of the poems she occupies. Through close readings of the Rime sparse and the works of Wyatt, Donne, and Marvell, Estrin uncovers three Lauras: Laura-Daphne, who denies sexuality; Laura-Eve, who returns the poet’s love; and Laura-Mercury, who reinvents her own life. Estrin claims that in these three guises Laura subverts both genre and gender, thereby introducing multiple desires into the many layers of the poems. Drawing upon genre and gender theories advanced by Jean-François Lyotard and Judith Butler to situate female desire in the poem’s framework, Estrin shows how genre and gender in the Petrarchan tradition work together to undermine the stability of these very concepts. Estrin’s Laura constitutes a fundamental reconceptualization of the Petrarchan tradition and contributes greatly to the postmodern reassessment of the Renaissance period. In its descriptions of how early modern poets formulate questions about sexuality, society and poetry, Laura will appeal to scholars of the English and Italian Renaissance, of gender studies, and of literary criticism and theory generally.
What sort of society could bind together Jacques Roubaud, Italo Calvino, Marcel Duchamp, and Raymond Queneau—and Daniel Levin Becker, a young American obsessed with language play? Only the Oulipo, the Paris-based experimental collective founded in 1960 and fated to become one of literature’s quirkiest movements.
An international organization of writers, artists, and scientists who embrace formal and procedural constraints to achieve literature’s possibilities, the Oulipo (the French acronym stands for “workshop for potential literature”) is perhaps best known as the cradle of Georges Perec’s novel A Void, which does not contain the letter e. Drawn to the Oulipo’s mystique, Levin Becker secured a Fulbright grant to study the organization and traveled to Paris. He was eventually offered membership, becoming only the second American to be admitted to the group. From the perspective of a young initiate, the Oulipians and their projects are at once bizarre and utterly compelling. Levin Becker’s love for games, puzzles, and language play is infectious, calling to mind Elif Batuman’s delight in Russian literature in The Possessed.
In recent years, the Oulipo has inspired the creation of numerous other collectives: the OuMuPo (a collective of DJs), the OuMaPo (marionette players), the OuBaPo (comic strip artists), the OuFlarfPo (poets who generate poetry with the aid of search engines), and a menagerie of other Ou-X-Pos (workshops for potential something). Levin Becker discusses these and other intriguing developments in this history and personal appreciation of an iconic—and iconoclastic—group.
The interest in the performance of ancient Greek poetry has grown dramatically in recent years. But the competitive dimension of Greek poetic performances, while usually assumed, has rarely been directly addressed. This study provides for the first time an in-depth examination of a central mode of Greek poetic competition--capping, which occurs when speakers or singers respond to one another in small numbers of verses, single verses, or between verse units themselves. With a wealth of descriptive and technical detail, Collins surveys the wide range of genres that incorporated capping, including tragic and comic stichomythia, lament, forms of Platonic dialectic and dialogue, the sympotic performance of elegy, skolia, and related verse games, Hellenistic bucolic, as well as the rhapsodic performance of epic. Further, he examines historical evidence for actual performances as well as literary representations of live performances to explore how the features of improvisation, riddling, and punning through verse were developed and refined in different competitive contexts.
Anyone concerned with the performance of archaic and classical Greek poetry, or with the agonistic social, cultural, and poetic gamesmanship that prompted one performer to achieve "mastery" over another, will find this authoritative volume indispensable.
The literary genres given shape by the writers of classical antiquity are central to our own thinking about the various forms literature takes. Examining those genres, the essays collected here focus on the concept and role of the author and the emergence of authorship out of performance in Greece and Rome.
In a fruitful variety of ways the contributors to this volume address the questions: what generic rules were recognized and observed by the Greeks and Romans over the centuries; what competing schemes were there for classifying genres and accounting for literary change; and what role did authors play in maintaining and developing generic contexts? Their essays look at tragedy, epigram, hymns, rhapsodic poetry, history, comedy, bucolic poetry, prophecy, Augustan poetry, commentaries, didactic poetry, and works that "mix genres."
The contributors bring to this analysis a wide range of expertise; they are, in addition to the editors, Glenn W. Most, Joseph Day, Ian Rutherford, Deborah Boedeker, Eric Csapo, Marco Fantuzzi, Stephanie West, Alessandro Barchiesi, Ineke Sluiter, Don Fowler, and Stephen Hinds. The essays are drawn from a colloquium at Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies.
Once relegated to the borders of literature—neither Mexican nor truly American—Chicana/o writers have always been in the vanguard of change, articulating the multicultural ethnicities, shifting identities, border realities, and even postmodern anxieties and hostilities that already characterize the twenty-first century. Indeed, it is Chicana/o writers' very in-between-ness that makes them authentic spokespersons for an America that is becoming increasingly Mexican/Latin American and for a Mexico that is ever more Americanized.
In this pioneering study, Héctor Calderón looks at seven Chicana and Chicano writers whose narratives constitute what he terms an American Mexican literature. Drawing on the concept of "Greater Mexican" culture first articulated by Américo Paredes, Calderón explores how the works of Paredes, Rudolfo Anaya, Tomás Rivera, Oscar Zeta Acosta, Cherríe Moraga, Rolando Hinojosa, and Sandra Cisneros derive from Mexican literary traditions and genres that reach all the way back to the colonial era. His readings cover a wide span of time (1892-2001), from the invention of the Spanish Southwest in the nineteenth century to the América Mexicana that is currently emerging on both sides of the border. In addition to his own readings of the works, Calderón also includes the writers' perspectives on their place in American/Mexican literature through excerpts from their personal papers and interviews, correspondence, and e-mail exchanges he conducted with most of them.
A smart, eclectic analysis of nine long poems written by postmodernist poets
Addressing subjects as wide-ranging as angelology, the court masque, pop art, caricature, the cult of the ruin, hip-hop, Spense’'s Irish policy, and the aesthetics of silence, Brian McHale pulls varied threads together to identify a repertoire of postmodernist elements characteristic of the long poems he examines.
As critic Jed Rasula explains, “McHale is wonderfully resourceful in changing the subject from chapter to chapter to fit the poems discussed, and while his approach adheres to the conventions of textual exegesis, the chapters really shine as orchestrations of issues. For instance, James Merrill’s The Changing Light at Sandover works unexpectedly well in raising the subject of found poetry and procedural composition; Melvin Tolso’'s Harlem Gallery and Edward Dorn's Gunslinger are effectively paired to demonstrate the period flavor of pastiche; Geoffrey Hill’s Mercian Hymns and Armand Schwerner’s The Tablets explode the modernist fixation with depth; John Ashbery’s work is given a nuanced reading as proto-theory; Letter to an Imaginary Friend by Thomas McGrath provides a lucid backdrop to raise the question of political efficacy in approaching language poet Bruce Andrews; and Susan Howe's The Europe of Trusts is explored for its intertextual tapestry.”
McHale shows how elements from these long poems overlap, interfere, pull in different directions, jar against, and even contradict each other; and he demonstrates how they also echo, amplify, and reinforce each other. They do not slot smoothly together like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, but they do form (what else?) a difficult whole.
Our appreciation of American poetry is as influenced by the personas presented in the poems as by public perception of the poets themselves. Emily Dickinson peeking from behind a doorway with large dark eyes is an indelible image superimposed over her spare, enigmatic poems. The grand gestures of Walt Whitman's voice have much to do with our reading of "Song of Myself." And we cannot hear "Mending Wall" or "Mowing" without thinking of the image of the rustic, sly farmer-poet that Robert Frost so carefully cultivated. The moral authority of the poet reveals itself through the poems as well, and it is crucial to the meaning of the poem, Holden argues, if art is to elevate life. Part 1 of The Old Formalism,"The Practice," is a close study of some of the conventions and developments in contemporary American poetry, with such topics as "sex and poetry" "rhetoricity," and "sensibility." Holden shows lucidly how character—or lack of it—is revealed in poetry. In "Personae," the second part, he gives a studied reading of a group of several admired poets, such as Richard Hugo, Mary Kinzie, Ted Kooser, and William Stafford. Holden uses biographical references and personal contacts with the poets to strengthen the notion of character revealed in poetry. This book takes a decided stand in the ongoing debate of the past two decades about the relationship of American poetry to American culture. In an age when image dominates word, and the business of poetry is nearly as celebrity-laden as Hollywood, Holden takes us past the media glitz, backstage where the poems are waiting to be read. Quite simply, in a clear, incisive manner, he teaches us how to read well again.
On Modern Poetry
Guido Mazzoni Harvard University Press, 2022 Library of Congress PQ4109.M3913 2022 | Dewey Decimal 809.103
An incisive, unified account of modern poetry in the Western tradition, arguing that the emergence of the lyric as a dominant verse style is emblematic of the age of the individual.
Between the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, poetry in the West was transformed. The now-common idea that poetry mostly corresponds with the lyric in the modern sense—a genre in which a first-person speaker talks self-referentially—was foreign to ancient, medieval, and Renaissance poetics. Yet in a relatively short time, age-old habits gave way. Poets acquired unprecedented freedom to write obscurely about private experiences, break rules of meter and syntax, use new vocabulary, and entangle first-person speakers with their own real-life identities. Poetry thus became the most subjective genre of modern literature.
On Modern Poetry reconstructs this metamorphosis, combining theoretical reflections with literary history and close readings of poets from Giacomo Leopardi to Louise Glück. Guido Mazzoni shows that the evolution of modern poetry involved significant changes in the way poetry was perceived, encouraged the construction of first-person poetic personas, and dramatically altered verse style. He interprets these developments as symptoms of profound historical and cultural shifts in the modern period: the crisis of tradition, the rise of individualism, the privileging of self-expression and its paradoxes. Mazzoni also reflects on the place of poetry in mass culture today, when its role has been largely assumed by popular music.
The result is a rich history of literary modernity and a bold new account of poetry’s transformations across centuries and national traditions.
Normand Berlin University of Michigan Press, 1993 Library of Congress PS3529.N5Z567 1993 | Dewey Decimal 812.52
In O'Neill's Shakespeare , Normand Berlin explores the relationship of William Shakespeare and Eugene O'Neill through detailed, often surprising, intertextual readings of the two great playwrights' work. "Of course, it would have been impossible for O'Neill not to have been influenced by Shakespeare," acknowledges Berlin. But this is an influence of an unusual and extraordinary sort, "a family romance" that transcends their obvious differences—a romance that "takes in all O'Neill's life and art."
In the first book-length study of this crucial literary and dramatic relationship, Berlin probes far beyond the usual listing of allusions and references. This is the exploration of an "essential, basic, even natural" connection, in which Shakespeare is shown to have fundamentally shaped O'Neill's creative imagination. Following O'Neill's career chronologically, Berlin divides his study into two parts. The "first career" (culminating in Mourning Becomes Electra) is explored through recurring themes that evoke Shakespeare: the sea, black and white, and the family. O'Neill's "second career" (from Ah! Wilderness until the last plays) is examined through Shakespearean genre classifications: comedy, history, tragedy, and tragicomedy. Though always grounded in close textual readings, Berlin's analysis spirals outward to encompass O'Neill's artistic and psychological development and touches on the questions of tradition, transcendence, and human nature inevitably raised when such literary connections across history are drawn.
O'Neill's Shakespeare is more than a reminder that Shakespeare continues to haunt Western culture; it is a careful and fascinating analysis of a particular legacy in American drama. The book has insights to offer to specialists in Shakespeare and O'Neill, and to any reader interested in the transmission of ideas through Western culture. Berlin's study of the unconscious and conscious uses of Shakespeare by O'Neill provide a valuable new understanding of O'Neill's artistry. It is also an eloquent, thoughtful account that blends the transcendence of Shakespeare's influence with the particular ways in which every era must refashion Shakespeare so that "the past becomes the present."
This volume brings together the three most influential ancient Greek treatises on literature. Aristotle’s Poetics contains his treatment of Greek tragedy: its history, nature, and conventions, with details on poetic diction. Stephen Halliwell makes this seminal work newly accessible with a reliable text and a translation that is both accurate and readable. His authoritative introduction traces the work’s debt to earlier theorists (especially Plato), its distinctive argument, and the reasons behind its enduring relevance.The essay On the Sublime, usually attributed to “Longinus” (identity uncertain), was probably composed in the first century CE; its subject is the appreciation of greatness (“the sublime”) in writing, with analysis of illustrative passages ranging from Homer and Sappho to Plato. In this edition, Donald A. Russell has revised and newly annotated the text and translation by W. Hamilton Fyfe, and supplied a new introduction.The treatise On Style, ascribed to an (again unidentifiable) “Demetrius”, was perhaps composed during the secod century BCE. It is notable particularly for its theory and analysis of four distinct styles (grand, elegant, plain, and forceful). Doreen Innes’s fresh rendering of the work is based on the earlier Loeb translation by W. Rhys Roberts. Her new introduction and notes represent the latest scholarship.
The Power of Genre
Adena Rosmarin University of Minnesota Press, 1986 Library of Congress PN45.5.R67 1985 | Dewey Decimal 801.951
The Power of Genre was first published in 1986. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
The Power of Genre is a radical and systematic rethinking of the relationship between literary genre and critical explanation. Adene Rosmarin shows how traditional theories of genre—whether called "historical," "intrinsic," or "theoretical"—are necessarily undone by their attempts to define genre representationally. Rather, Rosmarin argues, the opening premise of critical argument is always critical purpose or, as E. H. Gombrich has said, function, and the genre or "form" follows the reform. The goal is a relational model that works.
Rosemarin analyzes existing theories of genre — those of Hirsch, Crane, Frye, Todorov, Jauss, and Rader are given particular attention—before proposing her own. These analyses uncover the illogic that plagues even sophisticated attempts to treat genre as a preexistent entity. Rosmarin shows how defining genre pragmatically – as explicitly chosen or devised to serve explicitly critical purposes – solves this problem: a pragmatic theory of genre builds analysis of its metaphors and motives into its program, thereby eliminating theory's traditional need to deny the invented and rhetorical nature of its schemes. A pragmatic theory, however, must be tested not only by its internal cohesion but also by its power to enable practice, and Rosmarin chooses the dramatic monologue, an infamously problematic genre, and its recent relative, the mask lyric, as testing grounds. Both genres—variously exemplified by poems of Browning, Thennyson, Eliot, and Pound—are ex post facto critical constructs that, when defined as such, make closely reasoned sense not only of particular poems but also of their perplexed interpretive histories. Moreover, both genres dwell on the historicity, textuality, and redemptive imperfection of the speaking self. This generic obsession ties the poems to their reception and, finally, to the openended, processes of hermeneutic question-and-answer stressed in Rosmarin's framing theory.
Boeckmann links character, literary genre, and science, revealing how major literary works both contributed to and disrupted the construction of race in turn-of-the-century America.
In A Question of Character, Cathy Boeckmann establishes a strong link between racial questions and the development of literary traditions at the end of the 19th century in America. This period saw the rise of "scientific racism," which claimed that the races were distinguished not solely by exterior appearance but also by a set of inherited character traits. As Boeckmann explains, this emphasis on character meant that race was not only a thematic concern in the literature of the period but also a generic or formal one as well.
Boeckmann explores the intersections between race and literary history by tracing the language of character through both scientific and literary writing. Nineteenth-century pseudo-sciences such as phrenology and physiognomy had a vocabulary for discussing racial character that overlapped conceptually with the conventions for portraying race in literature. Through close readings of novels by Thomas Dixon, Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, Charles Chesnutt, and James Weldon Johnson—each of which deals with a black character "passing" as white—Boeckmann shows how this emphasis on character relates to the shift from romantic and sentimental fiction to realism. Because each of these genres had very specific conventions regarding the representation of character, genres often dictated how races could be depicted.
Ten original essays by advanced scholars and well-published poets address the middle generation of American poets, including the familiar---Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, Randall Jarrell, and John Berryman---and various important contemporaries: Delmore Schwartz, Theodore Roethke, Robert Hayden, and Lorine Niedecker. This was a famously troubled cohort of writers, for reasons both personal and cultural, and collectively their poems give us powerful, moving insights into American social life in the transforming decades of the 1940s through the 1960s.In addition to having worked during the broad middle of the last century, these poets constitute the center of twentieth-century American poetry in the larger sense, refuting invidious connotations of “middle” as coming after the great moderns and being superseded by a proliferating postmodern experimentation. This middle generation mediates the so-called American century and its prodigious body of poetry, even as it complicates historical and aesthetic categorizations.Taking diverse formal and thematic angles on these poets---biographical-historical, deconstructionist, and more formalist accounts---this book re-examines their between-ness and ambivalence: their various positionings and repositionings in aesthetic, political, and personal matters. The essays study the interplay between these writers and such shifting formations as religious discourse, consumerism, militarism and war, the ideology of America as “nature's nation,” and U.S. race relations and ethnic conflicts. Reading the Middle Generation Anew also shows the legacy of the middle generation, the ways in which their lives and writings continue to be a shaping force in American poetry. This fresh and invigorating collection will be of great interest to literary scholars and poets.
Today genre studies are flourishing, and nowhere more vigorously perhaps than in the field of Renaissance literature, given the importance to Renaissance writers of questions of genre. These studies have been nourished, as Barbara Lewalski points out, by the varied insights of contemporary literary theory. More sophisticated conceptions of genre have led to a fuller appreciation of the complex and flexible Renaissance uses of literary forms.
The eighteen essays in this volume are striking in their diversity of stance and approach. Three are addressed to genre theory explicitly, and all reveal a concern with theoretical issues. The contributors are Earl Miner, Ann E. Imbrie, Claudio Guillen, Alastair Fowler, Harry Levin, Morton W. Bloomfield, Mary T. Crane, Barbara J. Bono, Janel M. Mueller, Annabel Patterson, Steven N. Zwicker, Marjorie Garber, Robert N. Watson, John N. King, Heather Dubrow, John Klause, James S. Baumlin, and Francis C. Blessington.
In this precise and provocative treatise, Julie Jung augments the understanding and teaching of revision by arguing that the process should entail changing attitudes rather than simply changing texts. Revisionary Rhetoric, Feminist Pedagogy, and Multigenre Texts proposes and demonstrates alternative ways of reading, writing, and teaching that hear silences in such a way as to generate personal, pedagogical, and professional revisions. As both a challenge to prevailing revision pedagogies and an elaboration of contemporary feminist rhetorics, the volume encourages students and instructors to examine their identities as scholars of rhetoric and composition and to question how and why revision is taught.
Jung analyzes feminist texts to identify a revisionary rhetoric that is, at its core, most concerned with creating a space in which to engage productively with issues of difference. This synthesis of feminist theory and revision studies yields a pedagogically useful definition of feminist rhetoric, through which Jung examines the insights afforded by multigenre texts in various related contexts: the academic essay, the discipline of rhetoric and composition studies, feminist composition, and the subfields of English studies including rhetoric and composition, literature, and creative writing. Jung illustrates how multigenre texts demand innovative methods of inquiry because they do not fit the conventions of any single genre. Because genre is inextricably tied to the construction of social identity, she explains, multigenre texts also offer a means for understanding and revising disciplinary identity.
Boldly making a case for the revisionary power of multigenre texts, Jung retheorizes revision as a process of disrupting textual clarity so that differences can be identified, contended with, and perhaps understood. Revisionary Rhetoric, Feminist Pedagogy, and Multigenre Texts makes great strides towards defining feminist rhetoric and ascertaining how revision can be theorized, not just practiced. Jung also provides a multigenre epilogue that explores the usefulness of reconceiving revision as a progression towards wholeness rather than perfection.
Using traditional and contemporary rhetorical theory, Winterowd argues that the fiction-nonfiction division of literature is unjustified and destructive.
He would bridge the gap between literary scholars and rhetoricians by including both fiction (imaginative literature) and nonfiction (literature of fact) in the canon. The actual difference in literary texts, he notes, lies not in their factuality but in their potential for eliciting an aesthetic response.
With speech act and rhetorical theory as a basis, Winterowd argues that presentational literature gains its power on the basis of its ethical and pathetic appeal, not because of its assertions or arguments.
Why are poems important? What do people mean when they use the word prosody? How does a poem read and sound? How does a poem's shape--its form--help to create its meaning? Sound and Form in Modern Poetry provides useful answers to these questions for readers of poetry. Through careful attention to the poems of modern masters, the book offers an accessible guide to the way today's poems really work, and to the way they are linked in style to poems of earlier times.
Poet, critic, and editor Robert McDowell has updated this classic text in the light of the poetic and critical developments of the last three decades. Segments on Dickinson, Robinson, Frost, Jeffers, and Lowell, among other poets, have been greatly expanded, and Ashbery, Creeley, Ginsberg, Hall, Kees, Kumin, Levertov, Levine, O'Hara, Plath, Rich, Simpson, and Wilbur added, among others. The epilogue discusses a new generation of poets whose works will likely be read well into the next century-- among others, Thomas M. Disch, Rita Dove, Dana Gioia, Emily Grosholz, Mark Jarman, Molly Peacock, Gjertrud Schnackenberg, Timothy Steele, Mary Swander, and Marilyn Nelson Waniek.
Over the last ten years, the most inspiring topic of conversation and argument among poets and their readers has been the resurgence of narrative and traditional forms. The new Sound and Form in Modern Poetry is a seminal text in this discussion, examining not only this movement but all of the important developments (Dadaism, Surrealism, Imagism, Language Poetry, and the Confessional School) that have defined our poetry in the twentieth century and have set the stage for poetry's continued life in the twenty-first. The original Sound and Form in Modern Poetry enjoyed extensive classroom use as a text; the revised version promises to be even more accessible, and more essential, for years to come.
The late Harvey Gross was Professor of Comparative Literature, State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Robert McDowell is publisher and editor of Story Line Press, and is also poet, critic, translator, fiction writer, and essayist.
If, as the literary theorists of postmodernism contend, “content” does not exist, then how can fiction continue to be written? Jerome Klinkowitz, himself a veteran practitioner and theorist of fiction, addresses this question in Structuring the Void, an account of what today’s novelists and short story writers do when they produce a fictive work. Klinkowitz’s focus is on the way in which writers have turned this lack of content itself into subject matter, and, by thus “structuring the void,” have created a new form of fiction. Among the writers Klinkowitz discusses are Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, Max Apple, Saul Bellow, Erica Jong, Susan Quist, Gerald Rosen, Rob Swigart, and Grace Paley. He shows how, in the absence of subject matter, these writers persist in the act of structuring—by organizing autobiography as a narrative device, ritualizing national history and popular culture, or formalizing a comic response to a new imaginative state, the state of California. Klinkowitz also considers subjects such as gender and war, which, though they cannot be represented, nevertheless exercise contraints on a writer’s intention to structure. What emerges from Klinkowitz’s analysis is a clear sense of what today’s fiction—and fiction writing—is about. As such, Structuring the Void will prove invaluable to anyone with an interest in contemporary literature.
A revolution in clock technology in England during the 1660s allowed people to measure time more accurately, attend to it more minutely, and possess it more privately than previously imaginable. In Telling Time, Stuart Sherman argues that innovations in prose emerged simultaneously with this technological breakthrough, enabling authors to recount the new kind of time by which England was learning to live and work.
Through brilliant readings of Samuel Pepys's diary, Joseph Addison and Richard Steele's daily Spectator, the travel writings of Samuel Johnson and James Boswell, and the novels of Daniel Defoe and Frances Burney, Sherman traces the development of a new way of counting time in prose—the diurnal structure of consecutively dated installments—within the cultural context of the daily institutions which gave it form and motion. Telling Time is not only a major accomplishment for seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literary studies, but it also makes important contributions to current discourse in cultural studies.
In this classroom-tested approach to writing, Brock Dethier teaches readers how to analyze and write twenty-one genres that students are likely to encounter in college and beyond. This practical, student-friendly, task-oriented text confidently guides writers through step-by-step processes, reducing the anxiety commonly associated with writing tasks.
In the first section, Dethier efficiently presents each genre, providing models; a description of the genres’ purpose, context, and discourse; and suggestions for writing activities or “moves” that writers can use to get words on the page and accomplish their writing tasks. The second section explains these moves, over two hundred of them, in chapters ranging from “Solve Your Process Problems” and “Discover” to “Revise” and “Present.” Applicable to any writing task or genre, these moves help students overcome writing blocks and develop a piece of writing from the first glimmers of an idea to its presentation.
This approach to managing the complexity and challenge of writing in college strives to be useful, flexible, eclectic, and brief—a valuable resource for students learning to negotiate unfamiliar writing situations.
In a major rethinking of the functions, methods, and aims of narrative poetics, David Herman exposes important links between modernist and postmodernist literary experimentation and contemporary language theory. Ultimately a search for new tools for narrative theory, his work clarifies complex connections between science and art, theory and culture, and philosophical analysis and narrative discourse. Following an extensive historical overview of theories about universal grammar, Herman examines Joyce’s Ulysses, Kafka’s The Trial, and Woolf’s Between the Acts as case studies of modernist literary narratives that encode grammatical principles which were (re)fashioned in logic, linguistics, and philosophy during the same period. Herman then uses the interpretation of universal grammar developed via these modernist texts to explore later twentieth-century cultural phenomena. The problem of citation in the discourses of postmodernism, for example, is discussed with reference to syntactic theory. An analysis of Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover raises the question of cinematic meaning and draws on semantic theory. In each case, Herman shows how postmodern narratives encode ideas at work in current theories about the nature and function of language. Outlining new directions for the study of language in literature, Universal Grammar and Narrative Form provides a wealth of information about key literary, linguistic, and philosophical trends in the twentieth century.
How is a nation brought into being? In a detailed examination of crucial texts of eighteenth-century American literature, Christopher Looby argues that the United States was self-consciously enacted through the spoken word. Historical material informs and animates theoretical texts by Derrida, Lacan, and others as Looby unravels the texts of Benjamin Franklin, Charles Brockden Brown, and Hugh Henry Brackenridge and connects them to nation-building, political discourse, and self-creation. Correcting the strong emphasis on the importance of print culture in eighteenth-century America, Voicing America uncovers the complex process of early American writers articulating their new nation and reveals a body of literature and a political discourse thoroughly concerned with the power of vocal language.
Amy J. Devitt Southern Illinois University Press, 2008 Library of Congress PE1404.D416 2004 | Dewey Decimal 808042071
In Writing Genres, Amy J. Devitt examines genre from rhetorical, social, linguistic, professional, and historical perspectives and explores genre's educational uses, making this volume the most comprehensive view of genre theory today.
Writing Genres does not limit itself to literary genres or to ideas of genres as formal conventions but additionally provides a theoretical definition of genre as rhetorical, dynamic, and flexible, which allows scholars to examine the role of genres in academic, professional, and social communities.
Writing Genres demonstrates how genres function within their communities rhetorically and socially, how they develop out of their contexts historically, how genres relate to other types of norms and standards in language, and how genres nonetheless enable creativity. Devitt also advocates a critical genre pedagogy based on these ideas and provides a rationale for first-year writing classes grounded in teaching antecedent genres.
Writing the Classroom explores how faculty compose and use pedagogical documents to establish classroom expectations and teaching practices, as well as to articulate the professional identities they perform both inside and outside the classroom.
The contributors to this unique collection employ a wide range of methodological frameworks to demonstrate how pedagogical genres—even ones as seemingly straightforward as the class syllabus—have lives extending well beyond the classroom as they become part of how college teachers represent their own academic identities, advocate for pedagogical values, and negotiate the many external forces that influence the act of teaching. Writing the Classroom shines a light on genres that are often treated as two-dimensional, with purely functional purposes, arguing instead that genres like assignment prompts, course proposals, teaching statements, and policy documents play a fundamental role in constructing the classroom and the broader pedagogical enterprise within academia.
Writing the Classroom calls on experienced teachers and faculty administrators to critically consider their own engagement with pedagogical genres and offers graduate students and newer faculty insight into the genres that they may only now be learning to inhabit as they seek to establish their personal teacherly identities. It showcases the rhetorical complexity of the genres written in the service of pedagogy not only for students but also for the many other audiences within academia that have a role in shaping the experience of teaching.
Contributors: Michael Albright, Lora Arduser, Lesley Erin Bartlett, Logan Bearden, Lindsay Clark, Dana Comi, Zack K. De Piero, Matt Dowell, Amy Ferdinandt Stolley, Mark A. Hannah, Megan Knight, Laura R. Micciche, Cindy Mooty, Dustin Morris, Kate Navickas, Kate Nesbit, Jim Nugent, Lori A. Ostergaard, Cynthia Pengilly, Jessica Rivera-Mueller, Christina Saidy, Megan Schoen, Virginia Schwarz, Christopher Toth
Beginning in the 1980s, a number of popular and influential anthologies organized around themes of shared identity—Nice Jewish Girls, This Bridge Called My Back, Home Girls, and others—have brought together women’s fiction and poetry with journal entries, personal narratives, and transcribed conversations. These groundbreaking multi-genre anthologies, Cynthia G. Franklin demonstrates, have played a crucial role in shaping current literary studies, in defining cultural and political movements, and in building connections between academic and other communities.
Exploring intersections and alliances across the often competing categories of race, class, gender, and sexuality, Writing Women’s Communities contributes to current public debates about multiculturalism, feminism, identity politics, the academy as a site of political activism, and the relationship between literature and politics.