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Anatomy of Murder
Mystery, Detective, and Crime Fiction
Carl D. Malmgren
University of Wisconsin Press, 2001
Anatomy of Murder identifies and explores three basic fictional forms dealing with murder and detection—mystery, detective, and crime fiction. Mystery fiction takes place in a centered world, one whose most distinctive characteristic is motivation. Covering the forms of murder fiction, the book examines texts by Doyle, Christie, Sayers, Hammett, Chandler, Highsmith, Jim Thompson, Thomas Harris, and others.

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The Body of Writing
An Erotics of Contemporary American Fiction
Flore Chevaillier
The Ohio State University Press, 2013
The Body of Writing: An Erotics of Contemporary American Fiction examines four postmodern texts whose authors play with the material conventions of “the book”: Joseph McElroy’s Plus (1977), Carole Maso’s AVA (1993), Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s DICTEE (1982), and Steve Tomasula’s VAS (2003). By demonstrating how each of these works calls for an affirmative engagement with literature, Flore Chevaillier explores a centrally important issue in the criticism of contemporary fiction. Critics have claimed that experimental literature, in its disruption of conventional story-telling and language uses, resists literary and social customs. While this account is accurate, it stresses what experimental texts respond to more than what they offer. This book proposes a counter-view to this emphasis on the strictly privative character of innovative fictions by examining experimental works’ positive ideas and affects, as well as readers’ engagement in the formal pleasure of experimentations with image, print, sound, page, orthography, and syntax.
Elaborating an erotics of recent innovative literature implies that we engage in the formal pleasure of its experimentations with signifying techniques and with the materiality of their medium. Such engagement provokes a fusion of the reader’s senses and the textual material, which invites a redefinition of corporeality as a kind of textual practice.

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Jakobsonian Poetics and Slavic Narrative
From Pushkin to Solzhenitsyn
Krystyna Pomorska
Duke University Press, 1992
Krystyna Pomorska (1928–1986), a noted specialist of Slavic literature and literary theory, is best known for her pioneering work in applying Roman Jakobson's theories of poetics to prose narratives. This collection draws together and makes accessible her writings over two decades (among them articles appearing in English for the first time), and treats a wide range of Slavic literary works, including Pushkin, Tolstoy, Pasternak, Chekov, and Solzhenitsyn, as well as examples from Polish and Ukrainian literature and folklore.
Forming an intellectual and methodological whole, these essays reveal Pomorska's commitment to the principles of Jakobsonian poetics, her consistent application of these basic theoretical concepts to the analysis of literary works, and her interest in the foundations and history of literary criticism. Pomorska explores problems in both poetics (of prose as well as poetry) and literary theory, especially the relationship between biography and myth.
In Krystyna Pomorska, structuralism found a most able practitioner, and Jakobson's oeuvre an authoritative exponent and interpreter. Her volume, a guidebook to a major strain in modern criticism, will be of great interest to a broad audience of literary theorists and students of Slavic literatures and literature in general.

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Language, Sign and Gender in Beowulf
Gillian R. Overing
Southern Illinois University Press, 1990

Not a book about what Beowulf means but how it means, and how the reader participates in the process of meaning construction.

Overing’s primary aim is to address the poem on its own terms, to trace and develop an interpretive strategy consonant with the extent of its difference. Beowulf’s arcane structure describes cyclical repetitions and patterned intersections of themes which baffle a linear perspective, and suggest instead the irresolution and dynamism of the deconstructionist free play of textual elements.

Chapter 1 posits the self/reader as a function of the text/language, examining the ways in which the text "speaks" the reader. Chapter 2 develops an interactive semiotic strategy in an attempt to describe an isomorphic relation between poem and reader, between text and self. Chapter 3 addresses the notions of text and self as more complex functions or formulations of desire, and thus complicates and expands the arguments of the two preceding chapters. The final chapter examines the issue of desire in the poem, and, to a lesser extent, desire in the reader (insofar as these may legitimately be viewed as distinct from each other).


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On Longing
Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection
Susan Stewart
Duke University Press, 1993
Miniature books, eighteenth-century novels, Tom Thumb weddings, tall tales, and objects of tourism and nostalgia: this diverse group of cultural forms is the subject of On Longing, a fascinating analysis of the ways in which everyday objects are narrated to animate or realize certain versions of the world. Originally published in 1984 (Johns Hopkins University Press), and now available in paperback for the first time, this highly original book draws on insights from semiotics and from psychoanalytic, feminist, and Marxist criticism. Addressing the relations of language to experience, the body to scale, and narratives to objects, Susan Stewart looks at the "miniature" as a metaphor for interiority and at the "gigantic" as an exaggeration of aspects of the exterior. In the final part of her essay Stewart examines the ways in which the "souvenir" and the "collection" are objects mediating experience in time and space.

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Out of Mind
Mode, Mediation, and Cognition in Twenty-First-Century Narrative
Torsa Ghosal
The Ohio State University Press, 2021
What is the relationship between aesthetic presentation of thought and scientific conceptions of cognition? Torsa Ghosal’s Out of Mind: Mode, Mediation, and Cognition in Twenty-First-Century Narrative answers this question by offering incisive commentary on a range of contemporary fictions that combine language, maps, photographs, and other images to portray thought. Situating literature within groundbreaking debates on memory, perception, abstraction, and computation, Ghosal shows how stories not only reflect historical beliefs about how minds work but also participate in their reappraisal. 

Out of Mind makes a compelling case for understanding narrative forms and cognitive-scientific frameworks as co-emergent and cross-pollinating. To this end, Ghosal harnesses narrative theory, multimodality studies, cognitive sciences, and disability studies to track competing perspectives on remembering, reading, and sense of place and self. Through new readings of the works of Kamila Shamsie, Aleksandar Hemon, Mark Haddon, Lance Olsen, Steve Tomasula, Jonathan Safran Foer, and others, Out of Mind generates unique insights into literary imagination’s influence on how we think and perceive amid twenty-first-century social, technological, and environmental changes.


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Passionate Doubts
Designs of Interpretation in Contemporary American Fiction
Patrick O'Donnell
University of Iowa Press, 1986
This absorbing new study discusses theories of interpretation and construction of the self in six important contemporary novels. In semiotic analyses of John Barth's LETTERS, Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire, John Hawkes' Travesty, Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, Stanley Elkin's The Franchiser, and Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood, Patrick O'Donnell argues that contemporary fiction takes interpretation as its subject and as the very impetus for its making.

In an introductory dialogue and a closing chapter on the reader in contemporary fiction, O'Donnell shows that the formation of the reader's self, like character, plot, or any other element in fiction, is also part of the experience of the text, requiring a distinctive conception of interpretation. Calling upon a wide assemblage of modern theorists including Foucault, Derrida, Serres, Binswanger, Geertz, and Gadamer, O'Donnell elicits a broad range of interpretive possibilities—philosophical, psychological, archaeological, and linguistic—which speak to each novel's central concern with the act of reading as a form of signification.

While Passionate Doubts is broadly a hermeneutic study of contemporary fiction, the heart of this intriguing work resides in the close scrutiny of six modern novels which so richly evoke the very elements from which theories derive: language, form, and impulse. It is this specific application of theory that sets Passionate Doubts apart from other works in the field, yielding a series of important insights on the subject of language, sign, and the self in modern literature.

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The Split World of Gerard Manley Hopkins
Dennis Sobolev
Catholic University of America Press, 2011
For the first time in almost half a century, the world of Hopkins is examined as an indivisible whole. The Split World of Gerard Manley Hopkins is a synthetic study of Hopkins's writings, written within a framework of semiotic phenomenology.

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