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Canaan Bound
The African-American Great Migration Novel
Lawrence R. Rodgers
University of Illinois Press, 1997
      The Great Migration--the exodus of more than six million blacks from
        their southern homes hoping for better lives in the North--is a defining
        event of post-emancipation African-American life and a central feature
        of twentieth-century black literature. Lawrence Rodgers explores the historical
        and literary significance of this event and in the process identifies
        the Great Migration novel as a literary form that intertwines geography
        and identity.
      Drawing on a wide range of major literary voices, including Richard Wright,
        Ralph Ellison, and Toni Morrison, as well as lesser-known writers such
        as William Attaway (Blood on the Forge) and Dorothy West (The Living Is
        Easy), Rodgers conducts a kind of literary archaeology of the Great Migration.
        He mines the writers' biographical connections to migration and teases
        apart the ways in which individual novels relate to one another, to the
        historical situation of black America, and to African-American literature
        as a whole.
      In reading migration novels in relation to African-American literary
        texts such as slave narratives, folk tales, and urban fiction, Rodgers
        affirms the southern folk roots of African-American culture and argues
        for a need to stem the erosion of southern memory.

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Charlotte Bronte and the Storyteller's Audience
Carol Bock
University of Iowa Press, 1992

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City Scripts
Narratives of Postindustrial Urban Futures
Edited by Barbara Buchenau, Jens Martin Gurr, and Maria Sulimma
The Ohio State University Press, 2023

Storytelling shapes how we view our cities, legitimizing histories, future plans, and understandings of the urban. City Scripts responds to calls by literary theorists to engage a new kind of narrative analysis that recalibrates close reading and interpretation to the multiple ways in which narratives “do things”—how they intervene in the world and take action in everyday life. A multidisciplinary cast of contributors approaches this new way of looking at cities through the stories people tell about them, looking especially at political activism and urban planning, which depend on the invention of plausible stories of connectedness and of a redemptive future. 

The stakes are especially high in cities where economic, ecological, and social futures are delimited by histories of large-scale extraction and racialized industrial labor. Contributors thus focus on cities in postindustrial areas of Germany and the United States, examining how narratives about cities become scripts and how these scripts produce real-life results. This approach highlights how uses of narrative and scripting appeal to stakeholders in urban change. These actors continually deploy narrative, media, and performance, with consequences for urban futures worldwide. 


Lieven Ameel, Juliane Borosch, Barbara Buchenau, Florian Deckers, Barbara Eckstein, Kornelia Freitag, Walter Grünzweig, Randi Gunzenhäuser, Jens Martin Gurr, Elisabeth Haefs, Chris Katzenberg, Johannes Maria Krickl, Renee M. Moreno, Hanna Rodewald, Julia Sattler, Maria Sulimma, James A. Throgmorton, Michael Wala, Katharina Wood 


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Constituting Americans
Cultural Anxiety and Narrative Form
Priscilla Wald
Duke University Press, 1995
Ever since the founders drafted "We the People," "we" have been at pains to work out the contradictions in their formulation, to fix in words precisely what it means to be American. Constituting Americans rethinks the way that certain writers of the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth century contributed to this project; in doing so, it revises the traditional narrative of U.S. literary history, restoring an essential chapter to the story of an emerging American cultural identity. In diverse ways, very different writers—including Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, Harriet Wilson, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Gertrude Stein—participated in the construction and dissemination of an American identity, but none was entirely at ease in the culture they all helped to define. Evident in their work is a haunting sense of their telling someone else’s story, a discomfort that Priscilla Wald reads in the context of legal and political debates about citizenship and personhood that marked the emergence of the United States as a nation and a world power.
From early-nineteenth-century Supreme Court cases to turn-of-the-century Jim Crow and immigration legislation, from the political speeches of Abraham Lincoln to the historical work of Woodrow Wilson, nation-builders addressed the legal, political, and historical paradoxes of American identity. Against the backdrop of their efforts, Wald shows how works such as Douglass’s autobiographical narratives, Melville’s Pierre, Wilson’s Our Nig, Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folks, and Stein’s The Making of Americans responded, through formal innovations, to the aggressive demands for literary participation in the building of that nation. The conversation that emerges among these literary works challenges the definitions and genres that largely determine not only what works are read, but also how they are read in classrooms in the United States today.
Offering insight into the relationship of storytelling to national identity, Constituting Americans will compel the attention of those with an interest in American literature, American studies, and cultural studies.

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Contemporary French and Francophone Narratology
John Pier
The Ohio State University Press, 2020
The essays included in this collection seek to take the pulse of recent developments in narratological research in the French-speaking countries. Theorists in these countries heavily participated in and shaped narratology, an outgrowth of the structuralist movement during the 1960s and 1970s. While US, German, and Scandinavian theorists took the forefront in the 1990s, narratology in France faded into the background. It was not until the turn of the century that a new interest in narratological issues among French researchers emerged. Activity in the field has since intensified, spurred on, in part, by the realization that narratology cannot be summed up by its formalist and structuralist origins.

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Conversations on Cognitive Cultural Studies
Literature, Language, and Aesthetics
Frederick Luis Aldama and Patrick Colm Hogan
The Ohio State University Press, 2014
In recent years, few areas of research have advanced as rapidly as cognitive science, the study of the human mind and brain. A fundamentally interdisciplinary field, cognitive science has both inspired and been advanced by work in the arts and humanities. In Conversations on Cognitive Cultural Studies: Literature, Language, and Aesthetics, Frederick Luis Aldama and Patrick Colm Hogan, two of the most prominent experts on the intersection of mind, brain, and culture, engage each other in a lively dialog that sets out the foundations of a cognitive neuroscientific approach to literature. Despite their shared premises, Aldama and Hogan differ—sometimes sharply—on key issues; their discussion therefore presents the reader not with a single doctrine, but with options for consideration—an appropriate result in this dynamic field.
With clarity and learning, Aldama and Hogan consider five central topics at the intersection of literature and cognitive science. They begin with the fundamental question of the nature of the self. From here, they turn to language, communication, and thought before moving on to the central issue of the structure and operation of narrative. The book concludes with thought-provoking explorations of aesthetics and politics. Illustrating their arguments with work that ranges from graphic fiction and popular cinema to William Faulkner and Bertolt Brecht, Aldama and Hogan leave the reader with a clear sense of what cognitive cultural studies have already achieved and the significant promise the discipline holds for the future.

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The Corn Wolf
Michael Taussig
University of Chicago Press, 2015
Collecting a decade of work from iconic anthropologist and writer Michael Taussig, The Corn Wolf pinpoints a moment of intellectual development for the master stylist, exemplifying the “nervous system” approach to writing and truth that has characterized his trajectory. Pressured by the permanent state of emergency that imbues our times, this approach marries storytelling with theory, thickening spiraling analysis with ethnography and putting the study of so-called primitive societies back on the anthropological agenda as a way of better understanding the sacred in everyday life.

The leading figure of these projects is the corn wolf, whom Wittgenstein used in his fierce polemic on Frazer’s Golden Bough. For just as the corn wolf slips through the magic of language in fields of danger and disaster, so we are emboldened to take on the widespread culture of academic—or what he deems “agribusiness”—writing, which strips ethnography from its capacity to surprise and connect with other worlds, whether peasant farmers in Colombia, Palestinians in Israel, protestors in Zuccotti Park, or eccentric yet fundamental aspects of our condition such as animism, humming, or the acceleration of time.  

A glance at the chapter titles—such as “The Stories Things Tell” or “Iconoclasm Dictionary”—along with his zany drawings, testifies to the resonant sensibility of these works, which lope like the corn wolf through the boundaries of writing and understanding. 

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Craft Obsession
The Social Rhetorics of Beer
Jeff Rice
Southern Illinois University Press, 2016
Denied access to traditional advertising platforms by lack of resources, craft breweries have proliferated despite these challenges by embracing social media platforms, and by creating an obsessed culture of fans. In Craft Obsession, Jeff Rice uses craft beer as a case study to demonstrate how social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter function to shape stories about craft.

Rice weaves together theories of writing, narrative, new media, and rhetoric with a personal story of his passion for craft beer. He identifies six key elements of social media rhetoric—anecdotes, repetition, aggregation, delivery, sharing, and imagery—and examines how each helps to transform small, personal experiences with craft into a more widespread movement. When shared via social media, craft anecdotes—such as the first time one had a beer—interrupt and repeat one another, building a sense of familiarity and identity among otherwise unconnected people. Aggregation, the practice of joining unlike items into one space, builds on this network identity, establishing a connection to particular brands or locations, both real and virtual. The public releases of craft beers are used to explore the concept of craft delivery, which involves multiple actors across multiple spaces and results in multiple meanings. Finally, Rice highlights how personal sharing operates within the community of craft beer enthusiasts, who share online images of acquiring, trading for, and consuming a wide variety of beers. These shared stories and images, while personal for each individual, reflect the dependence of craft on systems of involvement. Throughout, Rice relates and reflects on his own experience as a craft beer enthusiast and his participation via social media in these systems.

Both an objective scholarly study and an engaging personal narrative about craft beer, Craft Obsession provides valuable insights into digital writing, storytelling, and social media.

front cover of Creating Identity in the Victorian Fictional Autobiography
Creating Identity in the Victorian Fictional Autobiography
Heidi L. Pennington
University of Missouri Press, 2018
This is the first book-length study of the fictional autobiography, a subgenre that is at once widely recognizable and rarely examined as a literary form with its own history and dynamics of interpretation. Heidi L. Pennington shows that the narrative form and genre expectations associated with the fictional autobiography in the Victorian period engages readers in a sustained meditation on the fictional processes that construct selfhood both in and beyond the text. Through close readings of Jane Eyre, David Copperfield, and other well-known examples of the subgenre, Pennington shows how the Victorian fictional autobiography subtly but persistently illustrates that all identities are fictions.

Despite the subgenre’s radical implications regarding the nature of personal identity, fictional autobiographies were popular in their own time and continue to inspire devotion in readers. This study sheds new light on what makes this subgenre so compelling, up to and including in the present historical moment of precipitous social and technological change. As we continue to grapple with the existential question of what determines “who we really are,” this book explores the risks and rewards of embracing conscious acts of fictional self-production in an unstable world.

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Crises of Memory and the Second World War
Susan Rubin Suleiman
Harvard University Press, 2006

How we view ourselves and how we wish to be seen by others cannot be separated from the stories we tell about our past. In this sense all memory is in crisis, torn between conflicting motives of historical reflection, political expediency, and personal or collective imagination. In Crises of Memory and the Second World War, Susan Suleiman conducts a profound exploration of contested terrain, where individual memories converge with public remembrance of traumatic events.

Suleiman is one of a handful of scholars who have shaped the interdisciplinary study of memory, with its related concepts of trauma, testimony, forgetting, and forgiveness. In this book she argues that memories of World War II, while nationally specific, transcend national boundaries, due not only to the global nature of the war but also to the increasingly global presence of the Holocaust as a site of collective memory. Among the works she discusses are Jean-Paul Sartre’s essays on the occupation and Resistance in France; Marcel Ophuls’ innovative documentary on Klaus Barbie, tried for crimes against humanity; István Szabó’s film Sunshine, a chronicle of Jewish identity in central Europe; literary memoirs by Jorge Semprun and Elie Wiesel; and experimental writing by child survivors of the Holocaust.


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