In recent years, New Historicists have situated the iconoclasm of Milton’s poetry and prose within the context of political, cultural, and philosophical discourses that foreshadow early modernism. In Carnal Rhetoric, Lana Cable carries these investigations further by exploring the iconoclastic impulse in Milton’s works through detailed analyses of his use of metaphor. Building on a provocative iconoclastic theory of metaphor, she breaks new ground in the area of affective stylistics, not only as it pertains to the writings of Milton but also to all expressive language. Cable traces the development of Milton’s iconoclastic poetics from its roots in the antiprelatical tracts, through the divorce tracts and Areopagitica, to its fullest dramatic representation in Eikonoklastes and Samson Agonistes. Arguing that, like every creative act, metaphor is by nature a radical and self-transgressing agent of change, she explores the site where metaphoric language and imaginative desire merge. Examining the demands Milton places on metaphor, particularly his emphasis on language as a vehicle for mortal redemption, Cable demonstrates the ways in which metaphor acts for him as that creative and radical agent of change. In the process, she reveals Milton’s engagement, at the deepest levels of linguistic creativity, with the early modern commitment to an imaginative and historic remaking of the world. An insightful and synthetic book, Carnal Rhetoric will appeal to scholars of English literature, Milton, and the Renaissance, as well as to those with an interest in the theory of affective stylistics as it pertains to reader-response criticism, semantics, epistemology, and the philosophy and psychology of language.
Cather Among the Moderns
Janis P. Stout University of Alabama Press, 2019 Library of Congress PS3505.A87Z8615 2019 | Dewey Decimal 810.93278
A masterful study by a preeminent scholar that situates Cather as a visionary practitioner of literary modernism
Willa Cather is often pegged as a regionalist, a feminine and domestic writer, or a social realist. In Cather Among the Moderns, Janis P. Stout firmly situates Cather as a visionary practitioner of literary modernism, something other scholars have hinted at but rarely affirmed. Stout presents Cather on a large, dramatic stage among a sizable cast of characters and against a brightly lit social and historical backdrop, invoking numerous figures and instances from the broad movement in the arts and culture that we call modernism.
Early on, Stout addresses the matter of gender. The term “cross-dresser” has often been applied to Cather, but Stout sees Cather’s identity as fractured or ambiguous, a reading that links her firmly to early twentieth-century modernity. Later chapters take up topics of significance both to Cather and to twentieth-century American modernists, including shifting gender roles, World War I’s devastation of social and artistic norms, and strains in racial relations. She explores Cather’s links to a small group of modernists who, after the war, embraced life in New Mexico, a destination of choice for many artists, and which led to two of Cather’s most fully realized modernist novels, The Professor’s House and Death Comes for the Archbishop.
The last chapter addresses Cather’s place within modernism. Stout first places her in relation to Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot with their shared ties to tradition even while making, sometimes startling, innovations in literary form, then showing parallels with William Faulkner with respect to economic disparity and social injustice.
Blending history and theory, Chinese Modernism in the Era of Reforms offers both a historical narrative and a critical analysis of the cultural visions and experiences of China’s post-Mao era. In this volume, Xudong Zhang rethinks Chinese modernism as a historical genre that arose in response to the historical experience of Chinese modernity rather than as an autonomous aesthetic movement. He identifies the ideologies of literary and cultural styles in the New Era (1979–1989) through a critical reading of the various “new waves” of Chinese literature, film, and intellectual discourse. In examining the aesthetic and philosophical formulations of the New Era’s intellectual elites, Zhang first analyzes the intense cultural and intellectual debates, known as the “Great Cultural Discussion” or “Cultural Fever” that took place in Chinese urban centers in the mid- and late 1980s. Chinese literary modernism is then explored, specifically in relation to Deng Xiaoping’s sweeping reforms and with a focus on the changing literary sensibility and avant-garde writers such as Yu Hua, Ge Fei, and Su Tong. Lastly, Zhang looks at the the making of New Chinese Cinema and films such as Yellow Earth, Horse Thief, and King of the Children—films through which Fifth Generation filmmakers first developed a style independent from socialist realism. By tracing the origins and contemporary elaboration of the idea of Chinese modernism, Zhang identifies the discourse of modernism as one of the decisive formal articulations of the social dynamism and cultural possibilities of post-Mao China. Capturing the historical experience and the cultural vision of China during a crucial decade in its emergence as a world power, Chinese Modernism in the Era of Reforms will interest students and scholars of modernism, Chinese literature and history, film studies, and cultural studies.
Conjuring the Folk addresses the dynamic relation between metropolitan artistic culture and its popular referents during the Harlem Renaissance period. From Jean Toomer's conclusion that "the Negro of the folk-song has all but passed away" to Zora Neale Hurston's discovery of "a rich field for folk-lore" in a Florida lumber camp, Harlem Renaissance writers made competing claims about the vitality of the African-American "folk." These competing claims, David Nicholls explains, form the basis of a discordant conversation on the question of modernity in African America.
In a series of revisionary readings, Nicholls studies how the "folk" is shaped by the ideology of form. He examines the presence of a spectral "folk" in Toomer's modernist pastiche, Cane. He explores how Hurston presents folklore as a contemporary language of resistance in her ethnography, Mules and Men. In Claude McKay's naturalistic romance, Banana Bottom, Nicholls discovers the figuration of an alternative modernity in the heroine's recovery of her lost "folk" identity. He unearths the individualist ethos of Booker T. Washington in two novels by George Wylie Henderson. And he reveals how Richard Wright's photo-documentary history, 12 Million BlackVoices, places the "folk" in a Marxian narrative of modernization toward class-consciousness.
A provocative rereading of the cultural politics of the Harlem Renaissance, Conjuring the Folk offers a new way of understanding literary responses to migration, modernization, and the concept of the "folk" itself.
David G. Nicholls is a post-doctoral fellow in the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, University of Chicago.
From Emerson to Rorty, American criticism has grappled in one way or another with the problem of modernity—specifically, how to determine critical and cultural standards in a world where every position seems the product of an interpretation. Part intellectual history, part cultural critique, this provocative book is an effort to shake American thought out of the grip of the nineteenth century—and out of its contingency blues.
Paul Jay focuses his analysis on two strands of American criticism. The first, which includes Richard Poirier and Giles Gunn, has attempted to revive what Jay insists is an anachronistic pragmatism derived from Emerson, James, and Dewey. The second, represented most forcefully by Richard Rorty, tends to reduce American criticism to a metadiscourse about the contingent grounds of knowledge. In chapters on Emerson, Whitman, Santayana, Van Wyck Brooks, Dewey, and Kenneth Burke, Jay examines the historical roots of these two positions, which he argues are marked by recurrent attempts to reconcile transcendentalism and pragmatism. A forceful rejection of both kinds of revisionism, Contingency Blues locates an alternative in the work of the “border studies” critics, those who give our interest in contingency a new, more concrete form by taking a more historical, cultural, and anthropological approach to the invention of literature, subjectivity, community, and culture in a pan-American context.
Mariano Siskind’s groundbreaking debut book redefines the scope of world literature, particularly regarding the place of Latin America in its imaginaries and mappings. In Siskind’s formulation, world literature is a modernizing discursive strategy, a way in which cultures negotiate their aspirations to participate in global networks of cultural exchange, and an original tool to reorganize literary history. Working with novels, poems, essays, travel narratives, and historical documents, Siskind reads the way Latin American literary modernity was produced as a global relation, from the rise of planetary novels in the 1870s and the cosmopolitan imaginaries of modernism at the turn of the twentieth century, to the global spread of magical realism. With its unusual breadth of reference and firm but unobtrusive grounding in philosophy, literary theory, and psychoanalysis, Cosmopolitan Desires will have a major impact in the fields of Latin American studies and comparative literature.
Edited by Ann M. Ryan and Joseph B. McCullough University of Missouri Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS1334.C67 2008 | Dewey Decimal 818.409
Cosmopolitan Twain takes seriously Mark Twain’s life as a citizen of urban landscapes: from the streets of New York City to the palaces of Vienna to the suburban utopia of Hartford. Traditional readings of Mark Twain orient his life and work by distinctly rural markers such as the Mississippi River, the Wild West, and small-town America; yet, as this collection shows, Twain’s sensibilities were equally formed in the urban centers of the world. These essays represent Twain both as a product of urban frontiers and as a prophet of American modernity, situating him squarely within the context of an evolving international and cosmopolitan community.
As Twain traveled and lived in these locales, he acquired languages, costumes, poses, and politics that made him one of the first truly cosmopolitan world citizens. Beginning with New York City—where Twain spent more of his life than in Hannibal—we learn that his early experiences there fed his fascination with racial identity and economic privilege. While in St. Louis and New Orleans, Twain developed a strategic detachment that became a part of his cosmopolitan persona. His contact with bohemian writers in San Francisco excited his ambitions to become more than a humorist, while sojourns in Buffalo and Hartford marked Twain’s uneasy accommodation to domesticity and cultural prominence. London finally liberated him from his narrowly constructed national identity, while Vienna allowed him to fully achieve his transnational voice. The volume ends by presenting Elmira, New York, as a complement, and something of a counterpart, to Twain’s cosmopolitan life, creating a domestic retreat from the pace and complexity of an increasingly urban, modern America.
In response to each of these cities, Twain generated writings that marked America’s movement into the twentieth century and toward the darker realities that made possible this cosmopolitan state. Cosmopolitan Twain presents Twain’s eventual descent into skepticism and despair not as a departure from his early values but rather as a dark awakening into the new terms of American identity, history, and moral authority. This collection reveals a writer who is decidedly less static than the iconic portrait that dominates popular culture. It offers a corrective to the familiar image of Twain as the nostalgic voice of America’s rural past, presenting Twain as a citizen of modernity and a visionary of a global and cosmopolitan future.
Keith L. Walker traverses the traditionally imposed boundaries of geography and race as he examines the literary culture produced by French speakers and writers born outside France. Focusing on the commonalities revealed in their shared language and colonial history, Walker examines for the first time the work of six writers who, while artistically distinct and geographically scattered, share complex sensibilities regarding their own relationship to France and the French language and, as he demonstrates, produce a counterdiscourse to their colonizers’ modern literary traditions. Martinique, French Guyana, Senegal, Morocco, and Haiti serve as the stage for the struggle these writers have faced with French language and culture, a struggle influenced by the legacy of Aimé Césaire. In his stand against the modernist principles of Charles Baudelaire, Walker argues, Césaire has become the preeminent francophone countermodernist. A further examination of the relationships between Césaire and the writers Léon Gontron Damas, Mariama Bâ, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Ken Bugul, and Gérard Étienne forms the core of the book and leads to Walker’s characterization of francophone literature as having “slipped the knot,” or escaped the snares of the familiar binary oppositions of modernism. Instead, he discovers in these writers a shared consciousness rooted in an effort to counter and denounce modernist humanist discourse and pointing toward a new subjectivity formed through the negotiation of an alternative modernity. Countermodernism and Francophone Literary Culture will engage readers interested in French literature and in postcolonial, Caribbean, African, American, and francophone studies.
Yoshinobu Hakutani traces the development of African American modernism, which initially gathered momentum with Richard Wright’s literary manifesto “Blueprint for Negro Writing” in 1937. Hakutani dissects and discusses the cross-cultural influences on the then-burgeoning discipline in three stages: American dialogues, European and African cultural visions, and Asian and African American cross-cultural visions.
In writing Black Boy, the centerpiece of the Chicago Renaissance, Wright was inspired by Theodore Dreiser. Because the European and African cultural visions that Wright, Ralph Ellison, Alice Walker, and Toni Morrison acquired were buttressed by the universal humanism that is common to all cultures, this ideology is shown to transcend the problems of society. Fascinated by Eastern thought and art, Wright, Walker, Sonia Sanchez, and James Emanuel wrote highly accomplished poetry and prose. Like Ezra Pound, Wright was drawn to classic haiku, as reflected in the 4,000 haiku he wrote at the end of his life. As W. B. Yeats’s symbolism was influenced by his cross-cultural visions of noh theatre and Irish folklore, so is James Emanuel’s jazz haiku energized by his cross-cultural rhythms of Japanese poetry and African American music.
The book demonstrates some of the most visible cultural exchanges in modern and postmodern African American literature. Such a study can be extended to other contemporary African American writers whose works also thrive on their cross-cultural visions, such as Amiri Baraka, Ishmael Reed, Charles Johnson, and haiku poet Lenard Moore.
An essential reconsideration of black literature and culture and its response to modernity.
In the African-American encounter with modernism, all was not confrontation. Rather, as Edward M. Pavlic demonstrates here, African-American artists negotiated the intersection of high modernism in Europe and American discourse to fashion their own distinctive response to American modernity. A deft repositioning of black literature and culture, PavliÂ´c's book reenvisions the potentials and dilemmas where the different traditions of modernism meet and firmly establishes African-American modernism at this cultural crossroads.
Offering new insights into the work of a variety of African-American artists-including Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Robert Hayden, David Bradley, Yusef Komunyakaa, Romare Bearden, and John Coltrane-Pavlic explores the complex ways in which key modernist philosophical ideas and creative techniques have informed black culture. Crossroads Modernism also provides an in-depth look at how West African cultural legacies are brought to bear in the structure of a truly African-American modernist creative process. The book brings to light two interrelated strains of black modernism: Afro-Modernism, which employs established modernist concerns and conceits to illuminate internal and psychological experience; and Diasporic Modernism, which places greater emphasis on shared cultural space and builds on traditions rooted in West African cultures.
Whereas much has been said about the (generally racist) use of "blackness" in constituting modernism, Crossroads Modernism is the first book to expose the key role that modernism has played in the constitution of "blackness" in African-American aesthetics. In light of this work, canonical texts in African-American literature can no longer be read as devoid of their own singular contribution to international modernism.
Edward M. Pavlic is assistant professor of English and Africana Studies at Union College in Schenectady, New York. His book of poems, Paraph of Bone and Other Kinds of Blue (2001) was selected by Adrienne Rich for the American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize.
Cultures of Modernism explores how the structure and location of literary communities significantly influence who writes, what they write about, and their openness to formal experimentation. These influences particularly affect women writers. Author Cristanne Miller notes striking patterns of similarity in the concerns and lives of women living in geographically distant centers of modernist production. She looks at three significant poets---the American Marianne Moore, the British expatriate Mina Loy, and the German Else Lasker-Schüler---in the context of cultural, national, and local elements to argue that location significantly affected their performances of subjectivity, gender, race, and religion. The first book of its kind, Cultures of Modernism breaks new ground while it contributes to the ongoing reconception of the modernist period.
"A fascinating, provocative, and genuinely original study of a 'different' modernism in poetry---namely, the Modernism of women poets."
---Marjorie Perloff, Stanford University
"An important and ambitious work that makes major contributions to the fields of gender studies and modernist studies, and to the study of modernist poetry."
---Robin Schulze, Pennsylvania State University
"Offers a welcome corrective to the unreflective critical tendency . . . to make broad claims about the historical experiences and cultural conundrums of 'women,' and particularly 'women writers.' Miller offers tour-de-force comparative readings . . . threading together the world-historical with the personal, poetics with the political, and wielding the instruments of scansion as deftly as a surgeon."
---Modernism/modernity, The Official Journal of the Modernist Studies Association
Cristanne Miller is Edward H. Butler Professor of English and Chair of the English Department at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York.