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.
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.
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 1963 publication of Thomas Pynchon’s V. changed the landscape of American fiction. Becoming Pynchon: Genetic Narratology and V. offers a detailed examination of the dramatic transformations that took place as Pynchon’s foundational novel went from typescript to published work. Luc Herman and John M. Krafft develop and deploy a rich theory of genetic narratology to examine the performance of genre in the novel. Pushing back against the current dominance of cognitive narratology, they discuss focalization, character construction, and evocation of consciousness as clues to Pynchon’s developing narratology of historical fiction. Their theoretical interventions offer an important and timely corrective to the field of narratology with a method that brings the author back into the analytical frame.
Herman and Krafft use as their guide the typescript of V. that surfaced in 2001, when it was acquired by the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, as well as Pynchon’s editorial correspondence with Corlies Smith, his first editor at J. B. Lippincott. Becoming Pynchon assembles a comprehensive and unequaled picture of Pynchon’s writing process that will appeal both to Pynchonians and to postmodernism scholars more broadly.
Charting a new course in the criticism of postwar fiction, Cool Characters examines the changing status of irony in American cultural and political life from World War II to the present, showing how irony migrated from the countercultural margins of the 1950s to the cultural mainstream of the 1980s. Along the way, irony was absorbed into postmodern theory and ultimately became a target of recent writers who have sought to create a practice of “postirony” that might move beyond its limitations.As a concept, irony has been theorized from countless angles, but Cool Characters argues that it is best understood as an ethos: an attitude or orientation toward the world, embodied in different character types, articulated via literary style. Lee Konstantinou traces five such types—the hipster, the punk, the believer, the coolhunter, and the occupier—in new interpretations of works by authors including Ralph Ellison, William S. Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, Kathy Acker, Dave Eggers, William Gibson, Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Lethem, and Rachel Kushner.For earlier generations of writers, irony was something vital to be embraced, but beginning most dramatically with David Foster Wallace, dissatisfaction with irony, especially with its alleged tendency to promote cynicism and political passivity, gained force. Postirony—the endpoint in an arc that begins with naive belief, passes through irony, and arrives at a new form of contingent conviction—illuminates the literary environment that has flourished in the United States since the 1990s.
"Christian Moraru is an especially dynamic and brilliant scholar who works at a high level of critical and theoretical sophistication. I've never seen anything quite so exhaustive, so magisterial. Readers of Cosmodernism will think of the Keats line about an astronomer's exhilaration when a new planet swims into his ken."
---David Cowart, University of South Carolina
"Cosmodernism has the potential to become foundational for the study of a whole period. Christian Moraru undertakes here to establish a new basis for thinking about the era of cultural history in which we have found ourselves, in the United States but also around the world, since the end of the Cold War. The strength of Moraru's work lies in its intellectual ambition and scope; its polymathic range and breadth of learning; its confident mastery of a variety of disciplinary discourses; its fresh and thoughtful selection of texts for discussion; the sharpness and insight of its textual analyses; and, animating everything, its fervent commitment to a new and better way of understanding our relationship to others and the world at large."
---Brian McHale, The Ohio State University
A sweeping inquiry into post–Cold War American literature and theory, Cosmodernism argues, cautiously but persuasively, for the rise of a new cultural paradigm against the backdrop of accelerating globalization. Moraru calls this paradigm "cosmodern." He uses the term to account for what seems to be gradually challenging the postmodern over the last twenty-odd years. Not so much a well-structured movement yet, cosmodernism is chiefly a critical construct enabling Moraru to articulate representative literary-theoretical interventions of the past two decades into a reasonably coherent model. The coherence inheres, he shows, in a certain "relational" imaginary, which the critic canvasses by placing a wide range of authors and works in, across, and against the material-conceptual networks of globalization, cosmopolitanism, modernism, postmodernism, postcolonialism, multiculturalism, and other areas of contemporary U.S. intellectual history.
Christian Moraru is Professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. His latest books include Rewriting: Postmodern Narrative and Cultural Critique in the Age of Cloning (2001), Memorious Discourse: Reprise and Representation in Postmodernism (2005), and the edited collection Postcommunism, Postmodernism, and the Global Imagination (2009).
Cover art: Earth, oil and acrylic on canvas, 48" × 36", 2008. Painting courtesy of Rebecca Darlington.
Reading eight major contemporary authors through the lens of chaos theory, Conte offers new and original interpretations of works that have been the subject of much critical debate
In this book, the first edition of which was published in 1971 by Oxford University Press, Ihab Hassan takes Orphic dismemberment and regeneration as his metaphor for a radical crisis in art and language, culture and consciousness, which prefigures postmodern literature. The modern Orpheus, he writes, “sings on a lyre without strings.” Thus, his sensitive critique traces a hypothetical line from Sade through four modern authors—Hemingway, Kafka, Genet, and Beckett—to a literature still to come. But the line also breaks into two Interludes, one concerning ’Pataphysics, Dada, and Surrealism, and the other concerning Existentialism and Aliterature.
Combining literary history, brief biography, and critical analysis, Hassan surrounds these authors with a complement of avant-garde writers whose works also foreshadow the postmodern temper. These include Jarry, Apollinaire, Tzara, Breton, Sartre, Camus, Nathalie Sarraute, Robbe-Grillet, and in America, Cage, Salinger, Ginsberg, Barth, and Burroughs. Hassan takes account also of related contemporary developments in art, music, and philosophy, and of many works of literary theory and criticism.
For this new edition, Hassan has added a new preface and postface on the developing character of postmodernism, a concept which has gained currency since the first edition of this work, and which he himself has done much to theorize.
The Young Adult novel is ordinarily characterized as a coming-of-age story, in which the narrative revolves around the individual growth and maturation of a character, but Roberta Trites expands this notion by chronicling the dynamics of power and repression that weave their way through YA books. Characters in these novels must learn to negotiate the levels of power that exist in the myriad social institutions within which they function, including family, church, government, and school.
Trites argues that the development of the genre over the past thirty years is an outgrowth of postmodernism, since YA novels are, by definition, texts that interrogate the social construction of individuals. Drawing on such nineteenth-century precursors as Little Women and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Disturbing the Universe demonstrates how important it is to employ poststructuralist methodologies in analyzing adolescent literature, both in critical studies and in the classroom. Among the twentieth-century authors discussed are Blume, Hamilton, Hinton, Le Guin, L'Engle, and Zindel.
Trites' work has applications for a broad range of readers, including scholars of children's literature and theorists of post-modernity as well as librarians and secondary-school teachers.
Disturbing the Universe: Power and Repression in Adolescent Literature by Roberta Seelinger Trites is the winner of the 2002 Children's Literature Association's Book Award. The award is given annually in order to promote and recognize outstanding contributions to children's literature, history, scholarship, and criticisim; it is one of the highest academic honors that can accrue to an author of children's literary criticism.
Contributors. Barry Alpert, Charles Altieri, David Antin, Harold Bloom, Paul A. Bové, Hélène Cixous, Gerald Gillespie, Ihab Hassan, Joseph N. Riddel, William, V. Spanos, Catharine R. Stimpson, Cornel West
For nearly three quarters of a century, the modernist way of reading has been the only way of reading James Joyce—useful, yes, and powerful but, like all frameworks, limited. This book takes a leap across those limits into postmodernism, where the pleasures and possibilities of an unsuspected Joyce are yet to be found.
Kevin J. H. Dettmar begins by articulating a stylistics of postmodernism drawn from the key texts of Roland Barthes, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Jean-François Lyotard. Read within this framework, Dubliners emerges from behind its modernist facade as the earliest product of Joyce’s proto-postmodernist sensibility. Dettmar exposes these stories as tales of mystery, not mastery, despite the modernist earmarks of plentiful symbols, allusions, and epiphanies. Ulysses, too, has been inadequately served by modernist critics. Where they have emphasized the work’s ingenious Homeric structure, Dettmar focuses instead upon its seams, those points at which the narrative willfully, joyfully overflows its self-imposed bounds. Finally, he reads A Portrait of the Artist and Finnegans Wake as less playful, less daring texts—the first constrained by the precious, would-be poet at its center, the last marking a surprising retreat from the constantly evolving, vertiginous experience of Ulysses.
In short, The Illicit Joyce of Postmodernism explores what happens when the extra-literary pronouncements of Eliot, Pound, and Joyce, as well as Joyce’s early critics, are set aside and a new, “unauthorized” Joyce is allowed to appear. This postmodern Joyce, more willful and less easily compartmentalized, stands as a counterpoint to the modernist Joyce who has perhaps become too familiar.
Plumbing what the poet Michael Palmer calls “the dimension of the Spirit, with that troublesome, rebarbative capital letter,” Norman Finkelstein’s On Mount Vision asks how and why the sacred has remained a basic concern of contemporary experimental poets in our secular age. By charting the wandering, together and apart, of poetry and belief, Finkelstein illustrates the rich tapestry formed by the warp and woof of poetry, and the play of Gnosticism, antinomianism, spiritualism, and shamanism, which have commonly been regarded as heretical and sometimes been outright suppressed.
This beautifully written work begins with an overview of the spiritual problematics found in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American poetry. Traveling slightly outside of the realm of the contemporary, Finkelstein’s discussions of Emerson, Whitman, and Eliot yield to close readings of the works of Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, Ronald Johnson, Michael Palmer, Susan Howe, Nathaniel Mackey, and Armand Schwerner. In restoring verse to its place alongside scripture, Finkelstein reminds us why the sacred remains crucial to our understanding of postmodern American poetry.
An examination of the American fascination with conspiracy and the distrust it sows
The recent popularity of The DaVinci Code and The Matrix trilogy exemplifies the fascination Americans have with conspiracy-driven subjects. Though scholars have suggested that in modern times the JFK assassination initiated an industry of conspiracy (i.e., Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, Area 51, Iran-Contra Affair), Samuel Chase Coale reminds us in this book that conspiracy is foundational in American culture—from the apocalyptic Biblical narratives in early Calvinist households to the fear of Mormon, Catholic, Jewish, and immigrant populations in the 19th century.
Coale argues that contemporary culture—a landscape characterized by doubt, ambiguity, fragmentation, information overload, and mistrust—has fostered a radical skepticism so pervasive that the tendency to envision or construct conspiracies often provides the best explanation for the chaos that surrounds us.
Conspiracy as embodied in narrative form provides a fertile field for explorations of the anxiety lying at the heart of the postmodern experience. Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, Don DeLillo's Underworld, Toni Morrison's Jazz and Paradise, Joan Didion's Democracy, Tim O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods, and Paul Auster's New York City Trilogy are some of the texts Coale examines for their representations of isolated individuals at the center of massive, anonymous master plots that lay beyond their control. These narratives remind us that our historical sense of national identity has often been based on the demonizing of others and that American fiction arose and still flourishes with apocalyptic visions.
For a half century, the American intellectual Fredric Jameson has been a driving force in literary and cultural theory. In Periodizing Jameson, Phillip E. Wegner builds upon Jameson’s unique dialectical method to demonstrate the value of Jameson’s tools—periodization, the fourfold hermeneutic, and the Greimasian semiotic square, among others—and to develop virtuoso readings of Jameson’s own work and the history of the contemporary American university in which it unfolds.
Wegner shows how Jameson’s work intervenes in particular social, cultural, and political situations, using his scholarship both to develop original explorations of nineteenth-century fiction, popular films, and other promiment theorists, and to examine the changing fortunes of theory itself. In this way, Periodizing Jameson casts new light on the potential of and challenges to humanist intellectual work in the present.
Rereading and rewriting our understanding of the poetics of modernism and postmodernism, this truly revisionary work identifies a significant counter-tradition in twentieth-century poetry. Postmodernism, Ming-Qian Ma argues, does not so much follow from modernism as coexist with it, with postmodernists employing the anarchic poetics introduced by Gertrude Stein in countering the rationalist method of high modernists such as T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.
Grounded in a detailed and compelling account of the philosophy guiding such a project, Ma’s book traces a continuity of thought and practice through the very different poetic work of objectivists Louis Zukofsky, George Oppen, Carl Rakosi, and John Cage and language poets Susan Howe, Lyn Hejinian, Bruce Andrews, and Charles Bernstein. His deft individual readings provide an opening into this notoriously difficult work, even as his larger critique reveals a new and clarifying perspective on American modernist and post-modernist avant-garde poetics. Ma shows how we cannot understand these poets according to the usual way of reading but must see how they deliberately use redundancy, unpredictability, and irrationality to undermine the meaning-oriented foundations of American modernism--and to force a new and different kind of reading.
With its unusually clear explanation of the philosophy informing postmodern practice, and its unique insights into some of the more interesting and vexing poets of our time, this book points to a reading of an important strain of postmodern American poetry that is likely to develop well into the twenty-first century.
Reverse Tradition invites the reader of postmodern fiction to travel back to the nineteenth-century novel without pretending to let go of contemporary anxieties and expectations. What happens to the reader of Beckett when he or she returns to Melville? Or to the enthusiast of Toni Morrison who rereads Charlotte Bronte? While Robert Kiely does not claim that all fictions begin to look alike, he finds unexpected and illuminating pleasures in examining a variety of ways in which new texts reflect on old.In this engaging book, Kiely not only juxtaposes familiar authors in unfamiliar ways; he proposes a countertradition of intertextuality and a way to release the genie of postmodernism from the bottleneck of the late twentieth century. Placing the reader’s response at the crux, he offers arresting new readings by pairing, among others, Jorge Luis Borges with Mark Twain, and Maxine Hong Kingston with George Eliot. In the process, he tests and challenges common assumptions about transparency in nineteenth-century realism and a historical opacity in early and late postmodernism.
In this new, scholarly text—an ambitious study of contemporary poetics—Joe W. Moffett deciphers the twentieth-century long poem, searching for a better understanding of why long-poem writers are preoccupied with a search for origins.
Moffett focuses on issues like postcolonialism, nation, modernism, and postmodernism. He conceptualizes his theories by using what he calls “originiary moments”: historical periods or specific events from which a poet contends our culture descends. These moments enlighten and inspire the modern poet to use origin or “source” as a way to examine present culture and social conditions. The poems also encourage modern readers to question, revise, and repudiate. Moffett organizes his argument by arranging specific examples into three categories of originary moments: Sumerian, Homeric, and Anglo-Saxon.
According to Moffett, the long poem is appealing because it “lacks strict conventions that govern other genres.” Using a wide variety of poems to support his arguments, Moffett asks many stimulating questions and also provides provocative answers.
Questions of when and where It All Began have been off the critical agenda for some time now, embargoed by poststructuralism. Undeterred, Joe Moffett boldly revisits the search for cultural origins, which preoccupied major poets throughout the twentieth century. Capacious in his scope, eclectic in his choices, Moffett rounds up unusual subjects, including long poems by Armand Schwerner, Derek Walcott, Geoffrey Hill, and Judy Grahn, with excursions into Charles Olson, Seamus Heaney, and others. Nowhere will you find clearer, more intelligent, or better-informed readings of these poems than Moffett’s.
Side Dishes considers feminist pornography and literary representations of masturbation, bisexuality, lesbianism, and sexual fantasies; the treatment of lust in stand-up comedy and science fiction; critical issues in leading feminist journals; and portrayals of sexuality in four contemporary Latin American films. Melissa A. Fitch concludes with a look at the rise of women's and gender studies programs in Latin America.
In a work of surprising range and authority, Deborah Forbes refocuses critical discussion of both Romantic and modern poetry. Sincerity's Shadow is a versatile conceptual toolkit for reading poetry.Ever since Wordsworth redefined poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings," poets in English have sought to represent a "sincere" self-consciousness through their work. Forbes's generative insight is that this project can only succeed by staging its own failures. Self-representation never achieves final sincerity, but rather produces an array of "sincerity effects" that give form to poetry's exploration of self. In essays comparing poets as seemingly different in context and temperament as Wordsworth and Adrienne Rich, Lord Byron and Anne Sexton, John Keats and Elizabeth Bishop, Forbes reveals unexpected convergences of poetic strategy. A lively and convincing dialectic is sustained through detailed readings of individual poems. By preserving the possible claims of sincerity longer than postmodern criticism has tended to, while understanding sincerity in the strictest sense possible, Forbes establishes a new vantage on the purposes of poetry.
A CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book
Literature in Latin America has long been a vehicle for debates over the interpretation of social history, cultural identity, and artistic independence. Indeed, Latin American literature has gained international respect for its ability to present social criticism through works of imaginative creation.
In this comprehensive, up-to-the-minute survey of research and opinion by leading Latin American cultural and literary critics, Naomi Lindstrom examines five concepts that are currently the focus of intense debate among Latin American writers and thinkers. Writing in simple, clear terms for both general and specialist readers of Latin American literature, she explores the concepts of autonomy and dependency, postmodernism, literary intellectuals and the mass media, testimonial literature, and gender issues, including gay and lesbian themes. Excerpts (in English) from relevant literary works illustrate each concept, while Lindstrom also traces its passage from the social sciences to literature.
By bringing together original fiction by well-known contemporary writers (William Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Kathy Acker, J. G. Ballard, Samuel R. Delany), critical commentary by some of the major theorists of postmodern art and culture (Jacques Derrida, Fredric Jameson, Timothy Leary, Jean-François Lyotard), and work by major practitioners of cyberpunk (William Gibson, Rudy Rucker, John Shirley, Pat Cadigan, Bruce Sterling), Storming the Reality Studio reveals a fascinating ongoing dialog in contemporary culture.
What emerges most strikingly from the colloquy is a shared preoccupation with the force of technology in shaping modern life. It is precisely this concern, according to McCaffery, that has put science fiction, typically the province of technological art, at the forefront of creative explorations of our unique age.A rich opporunity for reading across genres, this anthology offers a new perspective on the evolution of postmodern culture and ultimately shows how deeply technological developments have influenced our vision and our art.
Selected Fiction contributors: Kathy Acker, J. G. Ballard, William S. Burroughs, Pat Cadigan, Samuel R. Delany, Don DeLillo, William Gibson, Harold Jaffe, Richard Kadrey, Marc Laidlaw, Mark Leyner, Joseph McElroy, Misha, Ted Mooney, Thomas Pynchon, Rudy Rucker, Lucius Shepard, Lewis Shiner, John Shirley, Bruce Sterling, William Vollman
Selected Non-Fiction contributors: Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, Joan Gordon, Veronica Hollinger, Fredric Jameson, Arthur Kroker and David Cook, Timothy Leary, Jean-François Lyotard, Larry McCaffery, Brian McHale, Dave Porush, Bruce Sterling, Darko Suvin, Takayuki Tatsumi
A Trauma Artist examines how O'Brien's works variously rewrite his own traumatization during the war in Vietnam as a never-ending fiction that paradoxically "recovers" personal experience by both recapturing and (re)disguising it. Mark Heberle considers O'Brien's career as a writer through the prisms of post-traumatic stress disorder, postmodernist metafiction, and post-World War II American political uncertainties and public violence.
Based on recent conversations with O'Brien, previously published interviews, and new readings of all his works through 1999, this book is the first study to concentrate on the role and representation of trauma as the central focus of all O'Brien's works, whether situated in Vietnam, in post-Vietnam America, or in the imagination of protagonists suspended between the two. By doing so, Heberle redefines O'Brien as a major U.S. writer of the late twentieth century whose representations of self-damaging experiences and narratives of recovery characterize not only the war in Vietnam but also relationships between fathers and sons and men and women in the post-traumatic culture of the contemporary United States.
The first critical volume devoted to the full range of women's postmodern works
We Who Love to Be Astonished collects a powerful group of previously unpublished essays to fill a gap in the critical evaluation of women's contributions to postmodern experimental writing. Contributors include Alan Golding, Aldon Nielsen, and Rachel Blau DuPlessis; discussions include analyses of the work of Kathleen Fraser, Harryette Mullen, and Kathy Acker, among others. The editors take as their title a line from the work of Lyn Hejinian, one of the most respected of innovative women poets writing today.
The volume is organized into four sections: the first two seek to identify, from two different angles, the ways women of different sociocultural backgrounds are exploring their relationships to their cultures' inherited traditions; the third section investigates the issue of visuality and the problems and challenges it creates; and the fourth section expands on the role of the body as material and performance.
The collection will breach a once irreconcilable divide between those who theorize about women's writing and those who focus on formalist practice. By embracing "astonishment" as the site of formalist-feminist investigation, the editors seek to show how form configures feminist thought, and, likewise, how feminist thought informs words and letters on a page. Students and scholars of avant-garde poetry, women's writing, and late-20th-century American literature will welcome this lively discussion.
The American critic William V. Spanos, a pioneer of postmodern theory and co-founder of one of its principal organs, the journal boundary 2, is, in the words of A William V. Spanos Reader coeditor Daniel T. O’Hara, everything that current post-modern theory is accused of not being: polemical, engaged, prophetic, passionate. Informed by his experience as a prisoner of war in Dresden, Spanos saw dire con-sequences for life in modernist aesthetic experiments, and he thereafter imbued his work with a constructive aspect ever in the name of more life. A William V. Spanos Reader collects Spanos’s most important critical essays, providing both an introduction to his prophetic, visionary work and a provocation to the practice of humanistic criticism.
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