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The Faces of Time
Portrayal of the Past in Old French and Latin Historical Narrative of the Anglo-Norman Regnum
Jean Blacker
University of Texas Press, 1994

The twelfth century witnessed the sudden appearance and virtual disappearance of an important literary genre—the Old French verse chronicle. These poetic histories of the British kings, which today are treated as fiction, were written contemporaneously with Latin prose narratives, which are regarded as historical accounts. In this pathfinding study, however, Jean Blacker asserts that twelfth-century authors and readers viewed both genres as factual history.

Blacker examines four Old French verse chronicles—Gaimar's Estoire des Engleis (c. 1135), Wace's Roman de Brut (c. 1155) and Roman de Rou (c. 1160–1174), and Benoît de Sainte-Maure's Chronique des Ducs de Normandie (c. 1174–1180) and four Latin narratives—William of Malmesbury's Gesta Regum (c. 1118–1143) and Historia Novella (c. 1140–1143), Orderic Vitalis's Historia Ecclesiastica (c. 1118–1140), and Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae (c. 1138). She compares their similarity in three areas—the authors' stated intentions, their methods of characterization and narrative development, and the possible influences of patronage and audience expectation on the presentation of characters and events.

This exploration reveals remarkable similarity among the texts, including their idealization of historical and even legendary figures, such as King Arthur. It opens fruitful lines of inquiry into the role these writers played in the creation of the Anglo-Norman regnum and suggests that the Old French verse chronicles filled political, psychic, and aesthetic needs unaddressed by Latin historical writing of the period.


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Faulkner the Storyteller
Blair Labatt
University of Alabama Press, 2006

A study exploring the role of event and plot in William Faulkner’s fiction.

Faulkner the Storyteller addresses the role of event and plot in Faulkner's fiction and the creation of an implied teller behind the tale. Novels like The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom! are often thought of as canonical modernist texts antagonistic to traditional notions of plot and storytelling. Blair Labatt, however, argues that Faulkner's fiction, regardless of its modernist gestures, is filled and driven by sophisticated manifestations of plot—willed challenges, structural targets, gambits, designs, engagements, and battles—a language of competition and conflict and a syntax of events.

Labatt examines Faulkner's short stories, such as "Mountain Victory," "That Evening Sun," and "Barn Burning," and the architecture of the Snopes Trilogy (The Hamlet, The Town, and The Mansion), and finds that Faulkner's deployment of cause and effect is central to his narratives. Labatt also explores how Faulkner's use of plot creates an implied voice that lends a humorous element to his story's twists and turns that often brackets and encloses the pathos of his characters.


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"The Female Marine" and Related Works
Narratives of Cross-Dressing and Urban Vice in America's Early Republic
Daniel A. Cohen
University of Massachusetts Press, 1998
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.

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The Feminization of Famine
Expressions of the Inexpressible?
Margaret Kelleher
Duke University Press, 1997
Contemporary depictions of famine and disaster are dominated by female images. The Feminization of Famine examines these representations, exploring, in particular, the literature arising from the Irish "Great Famine" of the 1840s and the Bengali famine of the 1940s. Kelleher illuminates recurring motifs: the prevalence of mother and child images, the scrutiny of women’s starved bodies, and the reliance on the female figure to express the largely "inexpressible" reality of famine. Questioning what gives these particularly feminine images their affective power and analyzing the responses they generate, this historical critique reveals striking parallels between these two "great" famines and current representations of similar natural disasters and catastrophes.
Kelleher begins with a critical reading of the novels and short stories written about the Irish famine over the last 150 years, from the novels of William Carleton and Anthony Trollope to the writings of Liam O’Flaherty and John Banville. She then moves on to unveil a lesser-known body of literature—works written by women. This literature is read in the context of a rich variety of other sources, including eye-witness accounts, memoirs, journalistic accounts, and famine historiography. Concluding with a reading of the twentieth-century accounts of the famine in Bengal, this book reveals how gendered representations have played a crucial role in defining notions of famine.

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Fictionality and Literature
Core Concepts Revisited
Lasse R. Gammelgaard
The Ohio State University Press, 2022
Taking its cues from Richard Walsh’s influential 2007 book, The Rhetoric of FictionalityFictionality and Literature sets out to examine the implications of a rhetorical understanding of fictionality. A rhetorical approach understands fictionality and nonfictionality not as binary opposites but as different means to the same end: influencing an audience’s understanding of the world. Arguing that fiction is not just a feature of particular works, such as novels, but an adaptable instrument used to achieve an author’s specific rhetorical goals, the contributors theorize how to reconceive of core literary features and influences such as author, narrator, plot, character, consciousness, metaphor, metafiction/metalepsis, intertextuality, paratext, ethics, and social justice. Combining analyses of a wide range of texts by Colson Whitehead, Charles Dickens, Kazuo Ishiguro, Toni Morrison, Geoffrey Chaucer, and others with historical events such as the Nat Tate biography hoax and the Anders Breivik murders, contributors discuss not only a rhetorical definition of fictionality but also the wider consequences of such a conception. In addition, some chapters within Fictionality and Literature offer alternatives to a rhetorical paradigm, thus expanding the volume’s representation of the current state of the conversation about fictionality in literature.

H. Porter Abbott, Catherine Gallagher, Lasse R. Gammelgaard, Stefan Iversen, Louise Brix Jacobsen, Rikke Andersen Kraglund, Susan S. Lanser, Jakob Lothe, Maria Mäkelä, Greta Olson, Sylvie Patron, James Phelan, Richard Walsh, Wendy Veronica Xin, Henrik Zetterberg-Nielsen, Simona Zetterberg-Nielsen

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Fictions of Consciousness
Mill, Newman, and the Reading of Victorian Prose
Loesberg, Jonathan
Rutgers University Press, 1986
Mill, Newman, and the Reading of Victorian Prose

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The Fragmented Novel in Mexico
The Politics of Form
By Carol Clark D'Lugo
University of Texas Press, 1997

From Mariano Azuela's 1915 novel Los de abajo to Rosamaría Roffiel's Amora of 1989, fragmented narrative has been one of the defining features of innovative Mexican fiction in the twentieth century. In this innovative study, Carol Clark D'Lugo examines fragmentation as a literary strategy that reflects the social and political fissures within modern Mexican society and introduces readers to a more participatory reading of texts.

D'Lugo traces defining moments in the development of Mexican fiction and the role fragmentation plays in each. Some of the topics she covers are nationalist literature of the 1930s and 1940s, self-referential novels of the 1950s that focus on the process of reading and writing, the works of Carlos Fuentes, novels of La Onda that came out of rebellious 1960s Mexican youth culture, gay and lesbian fiction, and recent women's writings.

With its sophisticated theoretical methodology that encompasses literature and society, this book serves as an admirable survey of the twentieth-century Mexican novel. It will be important reading for students of Latin American culture and history as well as literature.


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Framed Narratives
Diderot’s Genealogy of the Beholder
Jay CaplanAfterword by Jochen Schulte-Sasse
University of Minnesota Press, 1985

Framed Narratives was first published in 1985. 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 work of French philosophe Denis Diderot (1713-1784) has inspired conflicting reactions in those who encounter him. Diderot has been admired and despised; he has moved his readers and irritated them - often at the same time. His work continually shifts between mutually exclusive positions - neither of which provides an entirely satisfactory answer to the question at hand, yet neither of which can be disregarded. The nature of these paradoxes has been the fundamental problem in Diderot, a problem that his interpreters have approached by imagining synthetic perspectives or frames within which the paradoxes could be resolved.

In Framed Narratives, Jay Caplan focuses on the problem of framing in and of Diderot. He proposes an interpretive model that draws upon the notion of dialogue developed by Mikhail Bakhtin. For Bakhtin, no utterance can be reduced to a univocal meaning; one's discourse is always marked by other voices. In Diderot, Caplan shows, the narrative device of the tableau engages the reader (or beholder) in a dialogic relationship with the author and the characters. Diderot defines the players of those roles as members of a family, one of whom is always missing, and that sacrificial relationship becomes an integral part of the text. Caplan then uses the concept of the tableau to interpret the rhetoric of gender, genre, and pathos in Diderot's works for and about the theater, his novel The Nun, the philosophical dialogue D'Alembert's Dream,and his correspondence.

What emerges from these readings is not only an interpretation of certain texts, but a description of Diderot's—and, by implication, early bourgeois—poetics. Framed Narratives is, in addition, one of the first attempts to rely upon Bakhtin's concepts in the interpretation of specific texts, in this case the work of an essentially dialogic writer. A socio-historical supplement to Framed Narratives is provided in Jochen Schulte-Sasse's afterword.


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The Freedom to Remember
Narrative, Slavery, and Gender in Contemporary Black Women's Fiction
Mitchell, Angelyn
Rutgers University Press, 2002

The Freedom to Remember examines contemporary literary revisions of slavery in the United States by black women writers. The narratives at the center of this book include: Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred, Sherley Anne Williams’s Dessa Rose, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, J. California Cooper’s Family, and Lorene Cary’s The Price of a Child.

Recent studies have investigated these works only from the standpoint of victimization. Angelyn Mitchell changes the conceptualization of these narratives, focusing on the theme of freedom, not slavery, defining these works as “liberatory narratives.” These works create a space to problematize the slavery/freedom dichotomy from which contemporary black women writers have the “safe” vantage point to reveal aspects of enslavement that their ancestors could not examine. The nineteenth-century female emancipatory narrative, by contrast, was written to aid the cause of abolition by revealing the unspeakable realitiesof slavery. Mitchell shows how the liberatory narrative functions to emancipate its readers from the legacies of slavery in American society: by facilitating a deeper discussion of the issues and by making them new through illumination and interrogation.


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From Behind the Veil
Robert B. Stepto
University of Illinois Press, 1991
This pioneering study of Afro-American narrative is far more critical, historical, and textual than biographical, chronological, and atextual. Robert Stepto asserts that Afro-American culture has its store of canonical stories or pregeneric myths, the primary one being the quest for freedom and literacy. This second edition includes a new preface and an afterward entitled "Distrust of the Reader in Afro-American Narratives."

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From Plot to Narrative
Ellis, Elizabeth
Parkhurst Brothers, Inc., 2012

Each of the twelve chapters represents a rung on the ladder of dynamic narrative development.  Beginning with the most basic plot outline, Ellis leads readers through exercises and discussions of elements that build a story into a memorable reading or listening experience.  The chapters include many topics of interest to all writers, regardless of medium, but some will speak most potently to those writing either fiction or personal narrative. Chapters include Characterization, Point of View, Emotion, Context, Imagery, and Connection [with the reader].  Herself a leading professional storyteller, Ellis also includes a chapter especially for those who plan to craft stories for oral performance.


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From Topic to Tale
Logic and Narrativity in the Middle Ages
Eugene VanceForeword by Wlad Godzich
University of Minnesota Press, 1987

From Topic to Tale was first published in 1987. 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 transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance has been discussed since the 1940s as a shift from a Latinate culture to one based on a vernacular language, and, since the 1960s, as a shift from orality to literacy. From Topic to Tale focuses on this multifaceted transition, but it poses the problem in different terms: it shows how a rhetorical tradition was transformed into a textual one, and ends ultimately in a discussion of the relationship between discourse and society.

The rise of French vernacular literacy in the twelfth century coincided with the emergence of logic as a powerful instrument of the human mind. With logic come a new concern for narrative coherence and form, a concern exemplified by the work of Chretien de Troyes. Many brilliant poetic achievements crystallized in the narrative art of Chretien, establishing an enduring tradition of literary technique for all of Europe. Eugene Vance explores the intellectual context of Chretien's vernacular literacy, and in particular, the interaction between the three "arts of language" (grammar, logic, and rhetoric) compromising the trivium. Until Vance, few critics have studied the contribution of logic to Chretiens poetics, nor have they assessed the ethical bond between rationalism and the new heroic code of romance.

Vance takes Chretien de Troyes' great romance, Yvain ou le chevalier au lion,as the centerpiece of the Twelfth-Century Renaissance. It is also central to his own thesis, which shows how Chretien forged a bold new vision of humans as social beings situated between beasts and angels and promulgated the symbolic powers of language, money, and heraldic art to regulate the effects of human desire. Vance's reading of the Yvain contributes not only to the intellectual history of the Middle Ages, but also to the continuing dialogue between contemporary critical theory and medieval culture.

Eugene Vance is professor of French and comparative literature at Emory University and principal editor of a University of Nebraska series, Regents Studies in Medieval Culture. Wlad Godzich is director of the Center for Humanistic Studies at the University of Minnesota and co-editor of the series Theory and History of Literature.


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