"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.
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.
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.
Bernd Herzogenrath’s An American Body|Politic is a study of the intersection between the material, biological body and body as political and cultural metaphor in American politics, religion, literature, and popular culture. Deeply influenced by the thought of Gilles Deleuze, Herzogenrath’s approach to American culture encompasses endless possibilities and potentials, eschewing the mechanic and structural. He traipses through American history and culture, pausing to examine such varied facets as the Puritans’ “two bodies,” Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy, Cotton Mather and smallpox, the poetics|politics of Whitman, Henry Adams’s stroll along the shores of complexity, and the Detroit-based techno music of today.
In this celebration of contemporary American fiction, Kathryn Hume explores how estrangement from America has shaped the fiction of a literary generation, which she calls the Generation of the Lost Dream.
In breaking down the divisions among standard categories of race, religion, ethnicity, and gender, Hume identifies shared core concerns, values, and techniques among seemingly disparate and unconnected writers including T. Coraghessan Boyle, Ralph Ellison, Russell Banks, Gloria Naylor, Tim O'Brien, Maxine Hong Kingston, Walker Percy, N. Scott Momaday, John Updike, Toni Morrison, William Kennedy, Julia Alvarez, Thomas Pynchon, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Don DeLillo.
Hume explores fictional treatments of the slippage in the immigrant experience between America's promise and its reality. She exposes the political link between contemporary stories of lost innocence and liberalism's inadequacies. She also invites us to look at the literary challenge to scientific materialism in various searches for a spiritual dimension in life.
The expansive future promised by the American Dream has been replaced, Hume finds, by a sense of tarnished morality and a melancholy loss of faith in America's exceptionalism. American Dream, American Nightmare examines the differing critiques of America embedded in nearly a hundred novels and points to the source for recovery that appeals to many of the authors.
Explores the ways American poetry engages with visual art, music, fiction, spirituality, and performance art
Many people think of poetry as a hermetic art, as though poets wrote only about themselves or as if the subject of poetry were finally only poetry—its forms and traditions. Indeed much of what constitutes poetry in the lyric tradition depends on a stringently controlled point of view and aims for a timeless, intransitive utterance. Stephen Fredman’s study proposes a different perspective.
American Poetry as Transactional Art explores a salient quality of much avant-garde American poetry that has so far lacked sustained treatment: namely, its role as a transactional art. Specifically Fredman describes this role as the ways it consistently engages in conversation, talk, correspondence, going beyond the scope of its own subjects and forms—its existential interactions with the outside world. Poetry operating in this vein draws together images, ideas, practices, rituals, and verbal techniques from around the globe, and across time—not to equate them, but to establish dialogue, to invite as many guests as possible to the World Party, which Robert Duncan has called the “symposium of the whole.”
Fredman invites new readers into contemporary poetry by providing lucid and nuanced analyses of specific poems and specific interchanges between poets and their surroundings. He explores such topics as poetry’s transactions with spiritual traditions and practices over the course of the twentieth century; the impact of World War II on the poetry of Charles Olson and George Oppen; exchanges between poetry and other art forms including sculpture, performance art, and ambient music; the battle between poetry and prose in the early work of Paul Auster and in Lyn Hejinian’s My Life. The epilogue looks briefly at another crucial transactional occasion: teaching American poetry in the classroom in a way that demonstrates that it is at the center of the arts and at the heart of American culture.
Nathanael West has been hailed as “an apocalyptic writer,” “a writer on the left,” and “a precursor to postmodernism.” But until now no critic has succeeded in fully engaging West’s distinctive method of negation. In American Superrealism, Jonathan Veitch examines West’s letters, short stories, screenplays and novels—some of which are discussed here for the first time—as well as West’s collaboration with William Carlos Williams during their tenure as the editors of Contact. Locating West in a lively, American avant-garde tradition that stretches from Marcel Duchamp to Andy Warhol, Veitch explores the possibilities and limitations of dada and surrealism—the use of readymades, scatalogical humor, human machines, “exquisite corpses”—as modes of social criticism. American Superrealism offers what is surely the definitive study of West, as well as a provocative analysis that reveals the issue of representation as the central concern of Depression-era America.
Anarchism is generally understood as a failed ideology, a political philosophy that once may have had many followers but today attracts only cranks and eccentrics. This book argues that the decline of political anarchism is only half the story; the other half is a tale of widespread cultural success. David Weir develops this thesis in several ways. He begins by considering the place of culture in the political thought of the classical anarchist thinkers William Godwin, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Mikhail Bakunin, and Peter Kropotkin. He then shows how the perceived "anarchy" of nineteenth-century society induced writers such as Matthew Arnold, Henry James, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky to turn away from politics and seek unity in the idea of a common culture. Yet as other late-nineteenth-century writers and artists began to sympathize with anarchism, the prospect of a common culture became increasingly remote. In Weir's view, the affinity for anarchism that developed among members of the artistic avant-garde lies behind much of fin de siècle culture. Indeed, the emergence of modernism itself can be understood as the aesthetic realization of anarchist politics. In support of this contention, Weir shows that anarchism is the key aesthetic principle informing the work of a broad range of modernist figures, from Henrik Ibsen and James Joyce to dadaist Hugo Ball and surrealist Luis Buñuel. Weir concludes by reevaluating the phenomenon of postmodernism as only the most recent case of the migration of politics into aesthetics, and by suggesting that anarchism is still very much with us as a cultural condition.
Examining the complex relationships between the political, popular, sexual, and textual interests of Nathaniel Hawthorne's work, Lauren Berlant argues that Hawthorne mounted a sophisticated challenge to America's collective fantasy of national unity. She shows how Hawthorne's idea of citizenship emerged from an attempt to adjudicate among the official and the popular, the national and the local, the collective and the individual, utopia and history.
At the core of Berlant's work is a three-part study of The Scarlet Letter, analyzing the modes and effects of national identity that characterize the narrator's representation of Puritan culture and his construction of the novel's political present tense. This analysis emerges from an introductory chapter on American citizenship in the 1850s and a following chapter on national fantasy, ranging from Hawthorne's early work "Alice Doane's Appeal" to the Statue of Liberty. In her conclusion, Berlant suggests that Hawthorne views everyday life and local political identities as alternate routes to the revitalization of the political and utopian promises of modern national life.
Anonymous Connections asks how the Victorians understood the ethical, epistemological, and biological implications of social belonging and participation. Specifically, Tina Choi considers the ways nineteenth-century journalists, novelists, medical writers, and social reformers took advantage of spatial frames-of-reference in a social landscape transforming due to intense urbanization and expansion. New modes of transportation, shifting urban demographics, and the threat of epidemics emerged during this period as anonymous and involuntary forms of contact between unseen multitudes. While previous work on the early Victorian social body have tended to describe the nineteenth-century social sphere in static political and class terms, Choi’s work charts new critical terrain, redirecting attention to the productive—and unpredictable—spaces between individual bodies as well as to the new narrative forms that emerged to represent them. Anonymous Connections makes a significant contribution to scholarship on nineteenth-century literature and British cultural and medical history while offering a timely examination of the historical forebears to modern concerns about the cultural and political impact of globalization.
Anti-Apocalypse was first published in 1994. 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.
As the year 2000 looms, heralding a new millennium, apocalyptic thought abounds-and not merely among religious radicals. In politics, science, philosophy, popular culture, and feminist discourse, apprehensions of the End appear in images of cultural decline and urban chaos, forecasts of the end of history and ecological devastation, and visions of a new age of triumphant technology or a gender-free utopia. There is, Lee Quinby contends, a threatening "regime of truth" prevailing in the United States-and this regime, with its enforcement of absolute truth and morality, imperils democracy. In Anti-Apocalypse, Quinby offers a powerful critique of the millenarian rhetoric that pervades American culture. In doing so, she develops strategies for resisting its tyrannies.
Drawing on feminist and Foucauldian theory, Quinby explores the complex relationship between power, truth, ethics, and apocalypse. She exposes the ramifications of this relationship in areas as diverse as jeanswear magazine advertising, the Human Genome project, contemporary feminism and philosophy, texts by Henry Adams and Zora Neale Hurston, and radical democratic activism. By bringing together such a wide range of topics, Quinby shows how apocalypse weaves its way through a vast network of seemingly unrelated discourses and practices. Tracing the deployment of power through systems of alliance, sexuality, and technology, Quinby reveals how these power relationships produce conflicting modes of subjectivity that create possibilities for resistance. She promotes a variety of critical stances—genealogical feminism, an ethics of the flesh, and "pissed criticism"—as challenges to apocalyptic claims for absolute truth and universal morality. Far-reaching in its implications for social and cultural theory as well as for political activism, Anti-Apocalypse will engage readers across the cultural spectrum and challenge them to confront one of the most subtle and insidious orthodoxies of our day.
Lee Quinby is associate professor of English and American studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She is the author of Freedom, Foucault, and the Subject of America (1991) and coeditor (with Irene Diamond) of Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on Resistance (1988).
The Arbiters of Reality: Hawthorne, Melville, and the Rise of Mass Information Culture disrupts our critical sense of nineteenth-century American literature by examining the storytelling strategies of both Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville in light of an emerging information industry. Peter West reveals how these writers invoked telegraphic and penny press journalism, daguerreotypy, and moving panoramas in their fiction to claim for themselves a privileged access to a reality beyond the reach of a burgeoning mass audience.
Locating Hawthorne and Melville in vivid and overlooked contexts—the Salem Murder scandal of 1830, which transformed Hawthorne's quiet city into a media-manufactured spectacle, and Melville's New York City of 1846–47, where the American Telegraph was powerfully articulating a nation at war—West portrays the romance as a reactive, deeply rhetorical literary form and a rich historical artifact.
In the early twenty-first century, it has become a postmodern cliché to place the word “reality” in scare quotes. The Arbiters of Reality suggests that attending to the construction of the real in public life is more than simply a language of critique: it must also be understood as a specific kind of romantic self-invention.
In Archives of Labor Lori Merish establishes working-class women as significant actors within literary culture, dramatically redrawing the map of nineteenth-century US literary and cultural history. Delving into previously unexplored archives of working-class women's literature—from autobiographies, pamphlet novels, and theatrical melodrama to seduction tales and labor periodicals—Merish recovers working-class women's vital presence as writers and readers in the antebellum era. Her reading of texts by a diverse collection of factory workers, seamstresses, domestic workers, and prostitutes boldly challenges the purportedly masculine character of class dissent during this era. Whether addressing portrayals of white New England "factory girls," fictional accounts of African American domestic workers, or the first-person narratives of Mexican women working in the missions of Mexican California, Merish unsettles the traditional association of whiteness with the working class to document forms of cross-racial class identification and solidarity. In so doing, she restores the tradition of working women's class protest and dissent, shows how race and gender are central to class identity, and traces the ways working women understood themselves and were understood as workers and class subjects.
Virtually since its inception, the United States has nurtured a dreamlike and often delirious image of itself as an essentially classless society. Given the stark levels of social inequality that have actually existed and that continue today, what sustains this at once hopelessly ideological and breathlessly utopian mirage? In Around Quitting Time Robert Seguin investigates this question, focusing on a series of modern writers who were acutely sensitive to the American web of ideology and utopic vision in order to argue that a pervasive middle-class imaginary is the key to the enigma of class in America. Tracing connections between the reconstruction of the labor process and the aesthetic dilemmas of modernism, between the emergence of the modern state and the structure of narrative, Seguin analyzes the work of Nathanael West, Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, John Barth, and others. These fictional narratives serve to demonstrate for Seguin the pattern of social sites and cultural phenomenon that have emerged where work and leisure, production and consumption, and activity and passivity coincide. He reveals how, by creating pathways between these seemingly opposed domains, the middle-class imaginary at once captures and suspends the dynamics of social class and opens out onto a political and cultural terrain where class is both omnipresent and invisible. Aroung Quitting Time will interest critics and historians of modern U.S. culture, literary scholars, and those who explore the interaction between economic and cultural forms.
The Art of Transition addresses the problems defined by writers and artists during the postdictatorship years in Argentina and Chile, years in which both countries aggressively adopted neoliberal market-driven economies. Delving into the conflicting efforts of intellectuals to name and speak to what is real, Francine Masiello interprets the culture of this period as an art of transition, referring to both the political transition to democracy and the formal strategies of wrestling with this change that are found in the aesthetic realm. Masiello views representation as both a political and artistic device, concerned with the tensions between truth and lies, experience and language, and intellectuals and the marginal subjects they study and claim to defend. These often contentious negotiations, she argues, are most provocatively displayed through the spectacle of difference, which constantly crosses the literary stage, the market, and the North/South divide. While forcefully defending the ability of literature and art to advance ethical positions and to foster a critical view of neoliberalism, Masiello especially shows how issues of gender and sexuality function as integrating threads throughout this cultural project. Through discussions of visual art as well as literary work by prominent novelists and poets, Masiello sketches a broad landscape of vivid intellectual debate in the Southern Cone of Latin America. The Art of Transition will interest Latin Americanists,literary and political theorists, art critics and historians, and those involved with the study of postmodernism and globalization.
In At Penpoint Monica Popescu traces the development of African literature during the second half of the twentieth century to address the intertwined effects of the Cold War and decolonization on literary history. Popescu draws on archival materials from the Soviet-sponsored Afro-Asian Writers Association and the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom alongside considerations of canonical literary works by Ayi Kwei Armah, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Ousmane Sembène, Pepetela, Nadine Gordimer, and others. She outlines how the tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union played out in the aesthetic and political debates among African writers and intellectuals. These writers decolonized aesthetic canons even as superpowers attempted to shape African cultural production in ways that would advance their ideological and geopolitical goals. Placing African literature at the crossroads of postcolonial theory and studies of the Cold War, Popescu provides a new reassessment of African literature, aesthetics, and knowledge production.